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Destination Maternity CEO out; Q2 sales slide

BY Marianne Wilson

Destination Maternity is looking for a new chief executive.

The struggling maternity apparel retailer said that Anthony M. Romano is stepping down as president, CEO and board member as part of a mutual agreement, effective Sept. 7. Romano has served in the role since 2014, and, prior to that, was president and CEO of Charming Shoppes. His departure follows the recent termination of an agreement for Destination Maternity to be acquired by France's Orchestra-Prémaman.

Allen Weinstein, an independent director of Destination Maternity, will serve as interim CEO until a permanent replacement is found. Weinstein, a director of the company's board since January 2010, is currently executive chairman and a director of Villa, a privately owned footwear and apparel retailer

"Despite the investment of significant time, effort and resources into the proposed merger with Orchestra-Prémaman, it was ultimately not completed," said Romano. "Consequently, my fellow board members and I have reached a mutual decision that now would be a good time to make a change to allow for a fresh look at Destination Maternity.

Destination Maternity and Orchestra-Prémaman, a manufacturer and retailer of children's apparel and childcare products, entered into an agreement in December 2016. The deal was terminated in July, with the company citing, among other things, difficulties in satisfying French and U.S. regulators.

Destination Maternity has been struggling with sliding sales as online competition and decreased mall traffic impacted its revenues. On Wednesday, Destination Maternity reported net sales of $98.3 million for its second quarter, down from $106.5 million in the year-ago period. The decrease was attributed to the closure of underperforming stores, a 3.4% decline in comparable sales, and the exit of the company's relationship with Kohl's.

It reported a net loss of $2.8 million for the quarter, compared to a loss of $2.5 million in the year-ago quarter. On a per-share basis, losses, adjusted for one-time gains and costs, were 13 cents per share, compared to 14 cents last year.

The retailer incurred store closing, asset impairment and asset disposal expenses of $1.1 million in the quarter, compared to expenses of $0.4 million last year.

As of July 29, 2017 Destination Maternity operates 1,150 retail locations in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico, including 507 stores, predominantly under the Motherhood Maternity, A Pea in the Pod and Destination Maternity banners, and 643 leased department locations. The company also sells merchandise on the Web through its websites.

In addition, Destination Maternity has international store franchise and product supply relationships in the Middle East, South Korea, Mexico, Israel and India. It has 210 international franchised locations, including 18 standalone stores operated under one of the Company's nameplates and 192 shop-in-shop locations.

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