Ascena Retail Q2 profit down; cuts outlook

Suffern, N.Y. -- Ascena Retail Group, the operator of Lane Bryant, Justice and Dress Barn stores, reported second-quarter profit of $31.9 million, down from $47.2 million in the year-ago period. Looking ahead, the company reduced its full-year adjusted earnings guidance to a range of $1.00 to $1.05 per share from its previous guidance range of $1.10 to $1.15 per share.

Sales increased to $1.27 billion from $1.24 billion last year. Same-store sales were flat.

The retailer attributed its profit decrease primarily to profit declines at Justice stores and increased operating expenses from growth-related investments in new stores, merchandising and design resources and e-commerce capabilities, according to the company.

“Second quarter net income was slightly above our revised expectations, despite softer than expected sales in January driven primarily by challenging weather that continued to negatively impact sales into early March,” said Ascena president and CEO David Jaffe. “However, in warmer regions sales have been in line with expectations. We are implementing promotional strategies and receipt flow adjustments to bring inventory balances back to targeted levels.”

Jaffe remained optimistic about the company outlook, citing very good progress on long range strategic priorities related to synergy initiatives and recently completed construction of a new national retail distribution center and a new e-commerce fulfillment center that becomes operational in the spring.

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