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 and LOFT monikers. The Ann Taylor brand targets fashion-conscious career women through about 375 namesake stores (about 110 of which are "Factory" outlets), while the LOFT brand offers moderate-to-more priced casual apparel through some 650 stores (110 of which are outlets). ANN also moves merchandise for both 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.
The women's apparel retailer's operations embrace a multichannel strategy, which spurred the retailer to adopt a new moniker. ANN INC. is intended to reflect the company's emphasis on its outlet and online operations as it caps off an aggressive restructuring of its retail store network.
The retail chain has stores in 47 US states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and now Canada. ANN Inc., Canada, the company's Canadian subsidiary, opened three stores in Toronto in late 2012. The chain's entry into Canada was its first step toward growing its brands internationally.
ANN's revenue increased 5% versus the prior year, to $2.5 billion in fiscal 2014 (ended January) as sales were up across both brands and channels (stores and online); it was the company's fourth consecutive year of revenue growth. Net income, which had experienced four years of growth, dipped slightly in 2014 from $102.6 million to $102.4 million due to an absence of investment income coupled with higher selling and general expenses. Cash from operations also fell, from $259 million to $216 million, as the company paid much more for inventory and compensation; the timing of income taxes, accounts payable, and other expenses also contributed.
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. In the bricks-and-mortar world, the company has been expanding internationally. It opened seven stores in Canada in 2014 and said it will open an additional 50 stores in the US and Canada while closing about 30 US stores. ANN also made international shipping available to 100 countries from its brands' websites.