Loft sales help lift Ann Inc. profit 5%; 65 stores on tap for fiscal 2012

New York -- Ann Inc.'s fiscal first-quarter net income increased a better-than-expected 5%, boosted by growing sales at its Loft division. The chain, which also operates Ann Taylor, said Friday that it earned $28.7 million in the three months through April 28, up from $27.3 million a year earlier.

“By brand, Loft once again delivered a phenomenal quarter, continuing its strong momentum across all channels. Clients responded positively to Loft's entire product offering, its compelling value proposition and engaging in-store experience, all of which contributed to very strong conversion,” said Ann president and CEO Kay Krill.

Revenue grew 7% to $560.4 million, matching Wall Street estimates, from $523.6 million. Same-store sales rose 3.8%.

Same-store sales rose 11.3% at Loft stores, outlets and the brand's website. But they were down 6.9% at Ann Taylor, where revenue slid 15.5%. The company said fewer promotions at its Ann Taylor stores cut into sales.

At the end of the quarter, Ann had 947 stores. The company said it expects to open 65 stores this year, but it plans to downsize Ann Taylor stores and close 30 locations. It expects to have approximately 985 stores at fiscal year-end.

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