After Doubling 4Q Profit, Ann Taylor to Cut 5% of Workforce


Women’s apparel retailer Ann (NYSE:ANN) reported a better-than-expected increase in fourth-quarter earnings on Friday as sales improved despite sluggish industry-wide growth.

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It also continued to streamline operations, and the company announced a new strategic realignment of its organization on Friday, which includes integrating stores and e-commerce structures.

As part of that, Ann will cut 100 jobs, expected to result in some $25 million in annualized cost savings.

The New York-based parent of Ann Taylor and LOFT stores reported net income of $4.7 million, or 10 cents a share, compared with a year-earlier $2.4 million, or five cents.

The results topped average analyst estimates in a Thomson Reuters poll by three pennies a share.

Revenue for the three months ended Feb. 1 was $623.3 million, up from $607.7 million and  virtually matching the Street’s view. Same-store sales, a measure of sales at stores open longer than a year, increased by 2.9%.

“For the fourth quarter, net sales, comparable sales and gross margin rate all showed  improvement from the fourth quarter of 2012,” Ann CEO Kay Krill said in a statement.

However, extreme winter weather did cause softer traffic and tepid consumer spending across the industry, which Krill said had a negative impact on Ann Taylor, Loft and its factory outlets.

The retailer for the current period forecast sales below expectations. It expects total sales to approach $600 million, which would be about flat year-over-year and slightly below the $613.3 million forecast by analysts.

For the full year, it is anticipating total sales of $2.615 billion, marginally below the consensus view of $2.64 billion.

Looking ahead, Ann said it is well-positioned for “continued profitable growth” and poised to expand its international operations with the planned opening of the first Loft store in Mexico later this year.

Shares of Ann were up 1.7% to $35.47 in early trade.