Ann Taylor Gets Lift…Will Apparel Follow?

AnnTaylor Stores surprised investors yesterday forecasting a better-than-expected first quarter, with management saying that earnings per share could come in between 45 cents and 47 cents, up from a previously predicted 35 cents to 40 cents. The outlook rose shares 10%.

Granted, Q1 same-store sales were down 4.3%, plunging 11.5% at Ann Taylor units and inching up 0.7% at Loft, but this is favorable news during a time when we aren’t hearing too many good things about the apparel sector.

We know that Ann Taylor is a big topic in the industry right now. Why? Because we get tons of hits on our blog from people searching about Ann Taylor store closings on Google. In fact, this post is our most popular since the blog began at the beginning of the year.

Management at Ann Taylor has not pulled back plans to close 117 stores, and the new chain it is launching for the “modern boomer” is still delayed. But are we seeing the beginnings of a turnaround at the company that could signify a change for all of apparel?


3 Responses to “Ann Taylor Gets Lift…Will Apparel Follow?”

  1. 1 Amfarb May 13, 2008 at 9:45 am

    It is about time for retailers to notice that “boomers” have aged and are looking for stylish clothing that is still sexy without making us look like hookers or needing to have the body of an 18-year old. Talbot’s is dowdy, as is Brooks Brothers, and most of the other chains are for twenty-somethings. Where are the slacks, skirts and suits that come to your real waist? Most boomer women do not want to emphasize their hips and belly, which is what the fashions of the past few years have done. Not only are they unflattering, but they are uncomfortable to boot. Furthermore, short jackets also emphasize these figure flaws. I can’t remember the last time I bought something at Ann Taylor, when it used to be my primary place to shop. If buyers and designers had an ounce of sense, they would carry a numger of different styles, instead of the uniform waist, length, and width that places like Ann Taylor have carried for the last 5 years.

  2. 2 Brad May 13, 2008 at 5:09 pm

    Hi Amfarb:

    You can trace your lack of interest in Ann Taylor fashions to a past CEO that decided to practically abandon the AT customer for a new look.
    Seemed like a random decision at the time….. Despite her major error and a significant loss of sales, she left the company with a very fat package. Perhaps if some of the executive types at the top of the retail world listened to “average” people like you, they’d have less to cry about. At one time, the AT label meant high quality clothes for the professional and/or smartly dressed woman. Like so many other retailers, they are just watering down their brand to make their numbers. Perhaps the smartest thing I’ve heard in years about AT is that they’re closing under performing locations and scaling back.
    Now if they’d only work on their quality………..good luck.

  3. 3 Nancy H May 15, 2008 at 11:28 am

    Hi Amfarb,
    It is so nice to hear someone voice the frustration that I, too, have been experiencing over the last several years! I can’t tell you the number of stores I search through trying to find pants that actually come up to my waist, and jackets that actually fall below my belt buckle. Ann Taylor loft used to have such great clothes – but I don’t even go there anymore, and I know a lot of people who can’t find clothes they like there anymore. I agree with Brad – they used to stand for “high quality clothes for the professional and/or smartly dressed woman.” But it seems like over the past five years their clothes have just gotten more expensive, less suited for business wear, and less well-made.
    For AT and all the other clothing retailers who only carry mid-rise and low-rise pants and short shirts and jackets…There are a lot of us out here in the business world who are approaching our 50s (and beyond), and we are realistic enough to know that our belly-buttons are no longer our “cutest” feature. Give us a break – and give us some clothes that don’t leave us with the perpetual notion that our pants are falling down!

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