Ascena Retail plans to close up to 650 stores


American womens' clothing company Ascena Retail Group is reportedly planning to close up to 650 stores over the next two years.

The affected stores include Ann Taylor, Dress Barn, Loft, Lane Bryant, Justice, Maurices and Catherines, UPI reported.

Ascena Retail Group currently operates more than 4,800 stores across the US, Canada and Puerto Rico, in addition to e-commerce websites offering clothing, shoes and accessories for women.

"We have developed a highly efficient supply chain and foundational omnichannel platform that will enable us to respond to the fundamental changes in consumer behaviour that are disrupting our industry."

Ascena Retail Group president and CEO David Jaffe said: “We continue to move aggressively to navigate our current environment.

"As a result of a $300m, multi-year technology and infrastructure investment cycle, we have developed a highly efficient supply chain and foundational omnichannel platform that will enable us to respond to the fundamental changes in consumer behaviour that are disrupting our industry.

“We have amplified our development of cost efficiencies, and recently increased the cost takeout target of our Change for Growth transformation programme to a range of $250m to $300m by fiscal 2019. This new target is as much as double our previously announced $150m target, and we remain determined to further increase the intensity and the scope of our programme activity.”

The company plans to permanently shut down more than 250 locations by the end of 2019, Retail Dive reported citing Jaffe.

It also plans to close at least 400 more stores through landlord negotiations during the same period.

The retailer faced a decline in overall comparable sales due to reduced store traffic across the premium, value and plus fashion segments.

Ascena reported a net loss of more than $1bn during its third quarter ended 29 April.