Ann Taylor Q4 profit jumps; changing corporate name to Ann Inc.

New York City — Ann Taylor Stores Corp. on Friday posted a bigger-than-expected quarterly profit on improved sales. The company, which said it will change its corporate name to Ann Inc. to better reflect its multichannel focus, also forecast strong first-quarter sales.

“Today, our company is far more than a traditional 'store-based' retailer,” stated Kay Krill, president and CEO. “We have two distinct brands — Ann Taylor and Loft — each of which operates across three channels and enables us to reach our client whether she is making her purchases at our stores, online or at our factory outlet locations,”

The retailer said its quarterly profit increased to $8 million from $41,000, or break even, in the year-earlier period.

Sales in the quarter ended Jan. 29 rose to $515.3 million from $469.1 million. Same-store sales were up 11%, including a 21% jump at the Ann Taylor unit.

The chain will open approximately 80 locations across its divisions in 2011. It also has budgeted $25 million for approximately 35 downsizes and remodels, largely associated with the accelerated conversion of select Ann Taylor stores to its new, smaller format, and $20 million for store renovation and refurbishment programs, primarily for Loft stores.

Ann Taylor said it bought back 4.2 million shares for $100 million during the first quarter.

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