Ann Taylor and Lane Bryant parent company files for bankruptcy

Ascena Retail Group will close 1,600 stores, many in malls

Lane Bryant and Ann Taylor stores (Getty)
Lane Bryant and Ann Taylor stores (Getty)

Just a few years ago Ascena Retail Group was one of the largest retailers for women’s clothes. Thursday, it filed for bankruptcy.

The company, which owns Ann Taylor and Lane Bryant, will close 1,600 of its approximately 2,800 stores in an attempt to shed $1 billion of its $1.1 billion in debt, according to The New York Times.

The company said it was in the process of recovering from earlier troubles when the coronavirus hit.

“The meaningful progress we have made driving sustainable growth, improving our operating margins and strengthening our financial foundation has been severely disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic,” Carrie Teffner, the interim executive chair of Ascena, said in a statement. “As a result, we took a strategic step forward today to protect the future of the business for all of our stakeholders.”

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The closings are expected to take a toll on malls. Thirty-four percent of the company’s locations are housed inside malls, according to a March earnings call.

Before the coronavirus shutdowns, in-store sales accounted for about 60 percent of Ascena’s revenue, according to a preliminary earnings report in May. The closures drove a 45 percent drop in overall sales in the three months that ended May 2.

The pandemic has resulted in mass bankruptcies for retailers as stores shuttered and sales took a dive. RTW Retailwinds, which owns New York & Company, and Brooks Brothers, also filed for bankruptcy this month. [NYT] — Sasha Jones