Ann Taylor Closing More Stores

Ann Taylor Stores is going through another round of store closures, this time shutting 30 units as it also cuts 160 office jobs. Last year in January the chain closed 117 stores and later upped that number to 163 units. The company currently operates 939 locations.

The moves are part of a three-year cost-cutting plan that is intended to save Ann Taylor $125 million. Retail analyst Jennifer Black was quoted by Reuters, saying: “”The company is obviously on a mission to get back in the game with a vengeance. We believe they are well on their way.”

Short term, though, this news isn’t good for landlords. We’re curious to see where some of these retailers will find their financial sweet spots. Once they cut back half of their store bases and leave a wasteland of empty space?


28 Responses to “Ann Taylor Closing More Stores”

  1. 1 dac July 31, 2009 at 8:11 am

    the only way “to get back in the game with a vengeance” is to create a product that is worth buying. Ann has been struggling for at least the past 4yrs (if not longer) to reconnect to its core older customer while at the same time trying to appeal to a new younger customer. and they have been failing miserably.

    additional store closures and repeated rounds of layoffs are symptoms of poor senior management and really only amounts to bailing water from a sinking ship. kay krill is definitely on my ‘ceo death watch’ and if she isn’t replaced soon, then i fear Ann will end up on the ‘company chap.11 death watch.’

    • 2 Lloyd Birnbaum August 5, 2009 at 9:59 am

      How is Ann Taylor walking away from the leases / negotiating with the landlords? what sort of terms are they negotiating? are they paying termination fees, renegotiating new lease terms, subletting the stores or just going dark and paying the rent?

  2. 3 DAVID NILGES July 31, 2009 at 8:48 am

    AT joins a growing list of retailers that “Just didn’t get it” many years back. why? Tradional clotjhing died 10 years back, AT, and many outlets did not pay attention to the current state of dress , and in many cases “undress” of women young and old, and older too. This fact, plus web sales from savvy retailers, and the “Discount” aspect of stores like Macy’s have killed, not all the “great chefs”, but most, if not all of the storefront boutiques.

  3. 4 Elizabeth July 31, 2009 at 9:13 am

    There is nothing wrong with trimming the fat and getting
    in lean and mean condition for business. That is what pure
    capitalism is all about. Get back to reality and sound
    practice and any business will thrive. When you are not hungry, you loose your creative edge and turn into a blob.

  4. 5 greendiamond July 31, 2009 at 9:22 am

    With the cleavage Ann Taylor and Loft store mannequins display in Manhattan, one would guess that this company is “making a killing.” Hopefully all this rental exposure will not “kill” the company.

  5. 6 Nancy July 31, 2009 at 9:53 am

    Ann Taylor has fallen into the “plain jane” syndrome. There is also no consistency from store to store..the clerk that waited on me advised me that they had a new designer…Well, probably go back to the old designer. Everything I saw in their stores this summer were solid color pieces..there were little or anything in a print. I don’t know about the rest of you but I am don’t want my wardrobe completely solid colors.

  6. 7 Jana July 31, 2009 at 10:55 am

    Have you seen Ann Taylor’s new fall looks? I was an avid AT customer for years and then stopped buying their merchandise for many more years as it got traditional and dowdy. But I’ve been in the store and am very excited about the new fall line. I think Kay Krill is doing what needs to be done – cut the fat, get rid of non-performing stores that are symptomatic of the street’s push to grow, grow, grow, and bring in designers who can reconnect the brand to consumers.

  7. 8 David Compton July 31, 2009 at 11:37 am

    During the Feeding Frenzy of early part of this decade, stores like AT, Abercrombie, The GAP, and any other number of feaux-fashion emporiums seemed to be offering clothing that appeared to be nothing more than street rags with designer monikers at uber-absurd prices; expecially Abercrombie.
    Irresponsible parents also indulged their spoiled, pre-teen, petulent offspring with 20 or 30 pairs of $200 a pair jeans with holes in them. Even stores like Bloomingdales men’s departments feature suits that are desinged for an 19-year old anorexic brazilian who wants to wear his pants so tight that you can tell his religion by looking at him. They actually featured a model wearing a suit with flip/flops. Please let’s declare these $300 a pair rubber soles as inappropriate. Let’s get back to selling some serious business attire.
    Retailers need to understand that the consumers know that they can longer afford to indulge even if they want. As a professional speaker/trainer, business attire is becoming serious again if you want to have any chance of a fulfilling career. AT – BRING BACK THE SERIOUS ATTIRE! This is true for women every bit as it is true for men. Get rid of the sandals and bring back the pumps and bring back the suits!
    David Compton, Litchfield Park, AZ

  8. 9 Dana July 31, 2009 at 12:53 pm

    Interesting thread. Notice how many different directions the respondents go with their critiques. It has to be rough to identify and target a “core customer” in this kind of environment.

  9. 10 Ted Hurlbut July 31, 2009 at 1:16 pm

    The slide in sales has left many retailers with “zombie stores”, stores that are no longer four-wall profitable. Nobody is expecting sales to rebound quickly for anybody, so closing these stores, where possible, is necessary to stem the cash outflow of keeping them open.

    This doesn’t address the fashion issues that have plagued AT for a while now, but it’s not intended to. And even if AT’s stylings were to suddenly reconnect with their core customer, there’s just not enough retail spending going on out there in discretionary fashion apparel to change the four-wall math.

  10. 11 BAW July 31, 2009 at 1:26 pm

    Do we know which locations yet?

  11. 12 Yankee July 31, 2009 at 6:57 pm

    What a corporate disaster in the making from the top down!

  12. 13 alan barocas August 1, 2009 at 7:34 am

    Ann Taylor is yet another example of a specialty retailer who,under pressure to grow to sustain earnings and revenue,over expanded in the post 2000 development boom. A victim of the “herding mentality” that many specialty retailers shared , decisions to enter a retail property were based on co tenancy and favorable economics rather than what the market could support. Cannibilization(the impact of opening an additional store on the existing fleet in a market)was minimalized. Given the issues that AT has had with maintaining a sustainable merchandise strategy, even the conservative revenue expectations projected were not met. The senior team at AT must exhibit the managerial courage needed to reposition their fleet despite the pressures that will be placed on them by the development community.

  13. 14 Julie Mac August 3, 2009 at 7:48 am

    I agree with David. America needs good, contemporary business clothes. Older women are looking for suits that look new and contemporary but authoritative. Younger women need help to figure out what to wear. Most of what is available in stores is inappropriate for a legitimate business career. No one is providing what the market needs so sales are in the tank. AT could do it if they listen to their customers.

  14. 15 Lloyd Birnbaum August 5, 2009 at 10:01 am

    Is Ann Taylor cutting deals with the landlords, subletting the spaces, going dark and paying the rent or simply defaulting on the leases? This is a major underwriting issue with respect to refinancing and merchandising shopping centers.

    • 16 dac August 8, 2009 at 12:03 pm

      based on my understanding of lease terms common in AT’s deals, they usually have the option to close through a sales-based termination right (i.e. a kick-out). there are only a handful of spaces that require any subletting or further negotiation with the LL. basically, AT is just exercising their option to terminate based on falling sales.

  15. 17 Karen August 25, 2009 at 7:33 am

    I am 48 years old, and wear a size 4. I like to look chic and put together, but I don’t care to show my cleavage at work (not that I have any!) Ann Taylor used to have classic pieces, and I thought they were doing a good job of appealing to younger customers with different cuts of pants. Too many low cut blouses and shirts seemed to be an effort to up the sales of their camisoles, or to force customers to ‘layer’. (Who wants to be bothered with that?!) I recently checked out a store and was disappointed that the quality of the merchandise seems to have gone down while the prices have been jacked up!! They are at risk of losing their core customer base. Why can’t they offer some classy choices, including sassy prints?

    I will probably look at Talbots, although in the past they have been too fuddy-duddy as well as expensive.

    I WILL pay a fair price for quality, well-made items that will last. I don’t think you can get that at Macy’s or some of the other department stores. (Definitely NOT at Kohls.)

    Ann Taylor seems to be trying to remake itself into a ‘Limited’ clone…i.e. what the Victoria’s Secret customer wears over her lingerie. I want clothes that fit and flatter, ut I don’t want to look tacky or like I am trying too hard, a la ‘Real Housewives of Orange County’ etc….

  16. 18 Ann is messed up August 27, 2009 at 4:12 pm

    I agree with you 100% Karen. If you’re looking for an outfit for a job interview or a business function, forget it. The clothes have gone downright tacky, the quality has dropped dramatically yet the prices are through the roof. I was there yesterday looking for a pants suit and couldn’t find anything. There was only one blazer in the whole store and it was chintzy fabric, ill fitting and way overpriced. They’re now charging $175 just for basic pumps. Ridiculous. The young girls can’t afford their clothes and the older ones like us don’t want to wear those trashy styles so I don’t know who they are marketing too.

  17. 19 Massgirl October 23, 2009 at 12:38 am

    I used to love Ann Taylor (especially the clearance rack) and I became a regular Loft shopper. This spring, I went into the Loft store near DCs Embassy Row and was really underwhelmed. It looked like an Old Navy–cheap, unfitted t-shirts with silly flourishes. It was unbelievably stark.

    Rewind to summer 2008 at the Loft in DC’s China Town where I found nice beaded tops, dresses with colorful designs and well constructed shells in vibrant colors (I’m too tall for the pants).

    What the hell happened in a few months?

    I found this article as I was embarrassed that I went into Coldwater Creek after a disappointing night at Loft and found a number of well tailored jackets, shells and sweaters for work. I’m only 31!!!!!

    Loft’s fall 2009 collection is an improvement from this spring but who the hell wants to pay $80 for an acrylic sweater. I don’t care how “modern” or “chic” it is.


  18. 20 kitty November 11, 2009 at 9:22 pm

    i am so glad others have noticed what i have been noticing each time i go into at or atl this past yr – what happened to the merchandise? the prices remain high if not higher than before, with the merchandise being of poor quality and tacky trendy crap.
    i am 54 and have shopped at both stores for yrs, and could always count on finding beautiful well made clothing in their stores.

    i am not even going to bother going in to their stores and will look elsewhere as it is so depressing going into their stores, and feels like a death when i leave because i spent a lot of money in their stores over the yrs and to go into them now, is just depressing.

    i am at j crew, banana republic and even talbots trying to put together outfits – boy things sure have changed –
    bring back our classy ann taylor please!!!!!!!!!!!

  19. 21 Patrice November 20, 2009 at 9:57 am

    Finally, a community of people who agree that there’s been such a decline in the classic style at Ann Taylor especially this year. The colors have been drab and the clothes ill-fitting. I work in Dc and here we dress. I’m not a fan of ultra long tops and gray. Where is the bight red and fuschia? Where are the fall plaids and spring patterns? where is the moderatly priced-items. If I wanted luxury clothes, I’d go to another retailer. I think most people go to Ann taylor because of the quality but value (and the former well-stocked sales rack).

    I wish Kay Krill and the new designer she brought on board from Club Monaco would ditch the club wear for more sensible yet stylish options.

  20. 22 Nancy November 23, 2009 at 1:27 pm

    AT you should wake up and listen..these comments are not good PR. I got my new AT credit card and I doubt I’ll eve use it.

  21. 23 wHAT?? November 25, 2009 at 12:08 pm

    This is what happens when you try to integrate customer “advice” into your strategic plan, you completely lose sight of your brand. Ann Taylor was merely trying to respond to customers who said their clothes were too dowdy looking like their Auntie Grizelda. So what’s it going to be: classic or fashionista??

  22. 24 ReturntoClassic December 5, 2009 at 11:50 am

    Surely, these “Hard Times in America” will return the consumer back to the basics, which includes a yearning for classic attire. Consider the 70’s clothes of velvet bell bottom pants during the Carter years which then aspired to the classic wools and silks of the Reagan years. It’s merely a matter of time. Ann Taylor is well advised to line up their suppliers now, at favorable terms, cull out non-productive stores, and wait to pounce.

  23. 25 Joan December 16, 2009 at 9:19 am

    I am glad I read these comments. I was starting to think I was becoming so old(39) that my taste in clothes was out of touch. A few years back I would go to ATL and would want to buy everything in the store. In the past yearor so, I go and browse and walk out with NOTHING. And for the AT, I could always count on it for special occasion items, but also find the quility is not the same.

  24. 26 stacey January 9, 2010 at 10:15 am

    I was beginning to think I was the only one who felt this way. I used to shop exclusively at Ann Taylor, and occasionally at the Loft. I’m 30. Never found much at the Loft, but relied on it for my casual summer staples. The sweaters never seemed worth the price. But I could always count on Ann for everything else. What has happened? Have y’all seen the awful cowl neck knit sweater? It was rayon and poly and the material made it look hideously cheap. The pants are no longer lined–hello VPL!—and they’re rayon/poly or rayon with a smaller percentage of wool….and they bag out at the end of the day. Also, just because you’re a size 2 in the dark gray modern fit does not mean you will be a size 2 in the light gray modern fit. Where’s the sizing consistency? The cashmere v-neck sweater was cashmere and NYLON. The cardigans have these weird baggy sleeves that get tight at the wrist so it’s a sloppy silhouette. I know it’s the in thing, but it’s not a good look on regular women. I emailed customer service and was thanked for my comments and was told that retailers must constantly make changes to appeal to their customers and the customers’ needs, and that they are sorry for disappointing me. I have never had such a difficult time finding something I like in the store. PLEASE bring back the old Ann Taylor. The quality has declined since about 2007 I think. Very disappointing. Many stores have this same quality now for a fraction of the price. If I’m not going to get Ann luxe quality, why pay the price for it?

  25. 27 Gigi February 3, 2010 at 4:21 pm

    They did this whole promotion about the New Ann and Wow come back to Ann Taylor but the clohting is cheaper and crappier then ever. I plan on paying off my card and not shopping there again. Cheaply made clothing that is way, way, way overpriced.

  26. 28 Joy April 7, 2010 at 4:26 pm

    Oh my gosh it feels great to read these similar posts- mostly from Karen on down. It would be safe to say my wardrobe is 95% ATL. I am 30 and work for the government. I LOVE sweater sets and my favorite style of pants is the Marisa. 🙂 I love ATL but have been so disappointed lately.

    Let’s start with QUALITY: ALL of my lined skirts and pants can be guaranteed to rip at some point, and cost me an additional $10 to alter. I have this one black pencil skirt that is so flattering, but it’s ripped twice (no, it’s not too small). I dryclean most of my clothes, but in an attempt to save money, I’ve washed a few things. Ooops.

    SIZE INCONSISTENCIES: My biggest pet peeve. In the pants, I wear from a size 0-4. The jeans are usually a 4. In shirts, forget it. I have to try one a few different sizes to get my fit based on the shirt. My shirt/sweater/blouse/dress/jacket wardrobe ranges from: xs, xs petite, small, small petite, 0, 2, 2 petite, 4 petite… Why can’t the sizes be consistent?? Heaven forbid my boyfriend try to buy me something…

    STYLES: When I first started shopping here, there used to be suits! Not any more. I like to be hip and trendy, but I’m also conservative (especially at work). I have to wear a cami with everything! (But I do like cami’s…). Most of the styles with a big bow of flower on the blouse or shoulder is a bit out of my comfort zone. The style of the skirts lately have been a little out there, and there have been hardly any good work skirts lately! And what happened to the shoes? Sigh…

    PRICES: Love the $50 style rewards card, but when I first started shopping there, it was for ALL items. Now it is only for full-priced items. And you can’t use it with any other coupons, say a rewards card you get from the ATL Credit card! Also, nearly everything eventually goes on sale, so I hardly ever buy anything full-priced. But a pair of pants on sale for $55 is a bit much. Especially if it’s not that great of quality!

    I think AT tried to branch off to other people and have declined in style and quality since. They need to stay with the casual business/business conservative/business clientle. The Old Navy/Gap/Express styles are no good for AT.

    Glad to have vented. I feel much better.

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