ANN: a name favored by royalty and commoners, as well as a company recognized for its aspirational luxury and feminine wear-to-work style. The national retailer specializes in women's clothing, shoes, and accessories designed and sold exclusively under its Ann Taylor, LOFT, and Lou & Grey monikers. The Ann Taylor brand targets fashion-conscious career women through about 260 namesake stores (about 120 of which are "Factory" outlets), while the LOFT brand offers moderate-to-more priced casual apparel through some 660 stores (113 of which are outlets). In addition, it owns five Lou & Grey stores. ANN also moves merchandise for its brands through its fast-growing online business. ANN hangs in the closet of women's clothing retailer Ascena, which purchased it in 2015.
Change in Company Type
In mid-2015 Acena Retail Group, owner of Lane Bryant, Dressbarn, and Maurices clothing stores, paid $2.2 billion for ANN in hopes of extending its reach into more upscale and older markets.
With more stores, the LOFT brand generates more than 60% of total sales, with Ann Taylor locations accounting for the remainder. ANN launched a new concept, Lou & Grey, in 2014 that features easygoing, casual clothing for everyday wear; those revenues are included in the LOFT segment.
The retail chain has stores in 47 US states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and Canada, as well as franchised locations in Mexico. It generates the overwhelming majority of sales in the US.
ANN's revenue increased 2% versus the prior year to just more than $2.5 billion in fiscal 2015 (ended January) as a rise in LOFT brand sales was enough to offset flat sales from the Ann Taylor brand; the LOFT results were primary because of increased store count. It was the company's fifth consecutive year of revenue growth. Net income, which had experienced four years of growth, fell in 2015 from $102 million to $68 million as cost of sales grew to 49% of net sales (up from 46% and 45%, respectively, in fiscal 2014 and 2013).
Cash from operations fell along with net income, dropping 28% to $156 million.
ANN has been working to integrate the store and online shopping experience by giving the sites access to store inventory, allowing customers to order online for store pickup, and offering online "events" to clear store inventory. It enhanced its search capabilities in 2015 and launched an e-commerce site for its Loou & Grey brand.
In the bricks-and-mortar world, the company has been expanding internationally. It now has about a dozen stores in Canada and in fiscal 2015 established a partnership to franchise LOFT stores in Mexico (it currently has three). ANN has plans to continue its North America expansion, as well as evaluate opportunities in other areas.