OPERATIONS

Esprit to divest North America operations, looking to offload 93 U.S. stores

BY Marianne Wilson

Hong Kong — On the heels of a 98% drop in its yearly earnings, Esprit Holdings said it is divesting its North American businesses and exiting three major European markets.

The company said it is actively looking for a partner willing to acquire its North American operations, which include 93 stores in the United States.

“We’ve currently engaged a private bank to assist us on exploring all options and all options are on the table,” said Ronald Van der Vis, Group CEO of Esprit Holdings "We’re looking at the possibility of licensing our North American operations and the third scenario, if we’re not successful in finding a partner, we’ll be closing them down."

Esprit also said is closing all its directly managed retail stores in Denmark, Sweden and Spain.

Esprit is now seeking to boost its presence outside of Europe, planning to invest more than US$2.3 billion on business operations and branding.

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FINANCE

Ascena Retail Q4 profit drops on charge, to open 125 to 135 stores

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Suffern, N.Y. — Ascena Retail Group, owner of the Dressbarn, Maurices and Justice chains, reported Wednesday that net income for the quarter ended July 30 fell to $28.2 million, from $42 million in the year-ago period on one-time charges and a shorter quarter for the performance slide.

On an adjusted basis, net income was up over last year, but still missed Wall Street expectations. Revenue rose 2% to $725.8 million, and same-store sales increased 7% overall. For the full fiscal year, Ascena earned $170.5 million. Its total revenue rose to $2.91 billion from $2.37 billion.

Our results were achieved in a very tough environment and we remained positioned for growth," David R. Jaffe, president CEO of Ascena, said in a statement. "We are certainly mindful of the pressures of today’s macro-economic environment and we are planning our business accordingly."

The company confirmed that it plans to open 125 to 135 stores, and close up to 35 in its new fiscal year.

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News

RadioShack welcomes Verizon with special offers

BY CSA STAFF

FORT WORTH, Texas — RadioShack has announced that it is celebrating the arrival of Verizon Wireless products and services in more than 4,400 U.S. stores with a series of special offers.

RadioShack said it will offer $100 off most Verizon Wireless smartphones, including 4G LTE devices such as the Droid Bionic by Motorola, the Droid Charge by Samsung, the Revolution by LG and the ThunderBolt by HTC. RadioShack also will offer $100 off other 3G smartphones from Verizon Wireless, including the Droid X2 by Motorola and the Droid Incredible 2 by HTC, among other top-selling handsets. Offers are available only for a limited time for new or upgrade customers with qualifying two-year service agreement and data feature.

"The arrival of Verizon Wireless is a definitive enhancement of our multi-carrier retailing proposition. Consumers increasingly expect the freedom to compare and contrast their mobile phone choices in one convenient location," said Jim Gooch, president and chief executive officer for RadioShack Corp. "Giving consumers access to knowledgeable associates plus a wide range of carriers, rate plans, devices, services and accessories helps us build lasting relationships. RadioShack is now well positioned to continue our momentum with consumers in the mobility category."

RadioShack will also offer the $50 Unlimited prepaid plan from Verizon Wireless — featuring monthly unlimited talk, text and Web service on no-contract phones such as the Samsung Intensity II Prepaid, Pantech Caper, LG Revere or Verizon Salute. Customers who purchase a no-contract Verizon Wireless phone in-store at RadioShack will receive a $20 RadioShack gift card. Other offers to celebrate the Verizon Wireless launch include 25% off all cases and screen protectors matching Verizon Wireless devices.

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