Ascena Retail Group announced yesterday that it’s winding down its dressbarn business and plans to shut all 650 or so of the women’s clothing stores in order to focus on its more profitable brands. Ascena, which also owns apparel chains Ann Taylor and Loft, noted that the “dressbarn chain has not been operating at an acceptable level of profitability in today’s retail environment.” The retailer said customers will be able to continue to shop from dressbarn stores and the brand's e-commerce site, as the closures won’t take place immediately. Ascena hasn’t outlined an exact timeline for the winding-down process of the business.
Total Retail's Take: Ascena Retail Group is looking to strengthen its business by identifying its brands that are capable of driving profitable growth in the near- and long-term future, furthering investments in them. The other side of that coin is that the brands that aren't showing signs of future growth opportunity, namely maurices, which Ascena has agreed to sell to a private equity firm for $300 million, and dressbarn, are being divested. In the case of dressbarn, the brand failed to attract and retain customers in the competitive women's apparel category, particularly as new players such as Amazon.com enter the space. The shuttering of dressbarn's stores will add to the 6,000-plus closures already announced this year, surpassing the total for all of 2018.