FINANCE

Golden Gate buys 9.5% stake in Ann Inc.

BY Dan Berthiaume

San Francisco – Private equity firm Golden Gate Capital Corp. disclosed in a regulatory filing that it has purchased a 9.5% ownership stake in Ann Inc., parent of Ann Taylor.

In a letter to the Ann Inc. board of directors, Golden Gate said it looks forward to working collaboratively with Ann Inc. The company said that it did not plan to seek changes to the retailer’s board or executive team, or to push for a sale

Golden Gate emphasized that it had faith in Ann Inc.’s management, pointing out its investment in Ann Taylor stores and efforts to refresh its brand. The firm added that it supports the company’s strategy to bolster new store growth and productivity at existing stores, and is willing to lend its expertise.

“Ann is a great business, with a thoughtful strategy, led by an extremely competent management team who has a long track record of success,” Golden Gate said in the letter. “We also believe that the company’s stock is significantly undervalued, especially in light of today’s robust equity environment.”

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FINANCE

Wet Seal shrinks net loss in Q4

BY Dan Berthiaume

Foothill Ranch, Calif. – The Wet Seal Inc. shrank its net loss to $27.5 million during the fourth quarter of fiscal 2013 from $85.8 million in the same quarter a year earlier. Net sales slipped 23% to $124.8 million from $161.6 million and same-store sales dropped 16%.

The Wet Seal cited the extra week in fiscal 2012 as negatively impacting its fiscal 2013 results. In addition, CEO John D. Goodman said the company will focus on social, digital and e-commerce, as well as on product, merchandising and customer engagement initiatives, and on the plus-size segment.

“Although we concluded fiscal 2013 with a difficult fourth quarter, we made substantial progress during the year against our turnaround strategies, which provides a strong foundation for the business,” said Goodman.

During the full fiscal year, The Wet Seal reported a net loss of $38.4 million, compared to $113.2 million in the prior fiscal year. Net sales dropped 9% to $530.1 million from $580.4 million and same-store sales declined 4.1%.

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FINANCE

New York & Company grows net income in Q4, moves HQ

BY Dan Berthiaume

New York – New York & Company grew its net income during the fourth quarter of fiscal 2013 11% to $6.9 million, from $6.2 million. Net sales fell 7% to $271 million from $291.8 million and same-store sales climbed 1.2%.

New York & Company attributed its improved net income to expense controls and increased merchandise margin. The company also cited the 53rd week in fiscal 2012 as affecting its negative net sales growth.

In addition, in advance of the expiration of its existing headquarters lease, the company signed a 16-year lease to relocate its corporate headquarters. New York & Company plans to occupy approximately 180,000 rentable sq. ft. of space in 330 West 34th Street in New York City by the end of 2014. Vornado Realty Trust is in the process of completing a full renovation of the building. Planning and design of the new headquarters site is already underway

During the full fiscal year, the retailer swung to a net profit of $2.4 million from a net loss of $2.2 million in the preceding fiscal year. Net sales dropped 3% to $939.2 million, from $966.4 million. Same-store sales rose 1.1%.

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