NEW YORK Ann Taylor Stores said that as a result of stronger-than-expected first-quarter sales and a higher gross margin rate, it expects bottom-line performance for the fiscal first quarter of 2010 to significantly exceed expectations and to be substantially better than the first quarter of 2009.
Total company net sales for the fiscal first quarter of 2010 are expected to be approximately $475 million, as compared with the company's prior outlook for sales of approximately $445 million. Comparable-store sales for the first quarter of 2010 are expected to increase by approximately 11%.
Kay Krill, president and CEO, said, "We are very pleased with the performance at both Ann Taylor and LOFT. The positive sales momentum we achieved early in the quarter continued throughout the period, with clients responding favorably to our product offering at both brands as well as our increased marketing initiatives, which delivered meaningful traffic improvements in-store and online. In addition, our gross margin rate benefited from strong full-price sales, our successful planned promotional strategy and our ongoing focus on carefully managing inventories. Overall, the company's first quarter performance reflects the progress we've made towards delivering topline growth and enhanced productivity across all brands and channels."