Ascena Considers Selling Lane Bryant, Catherine’s

On the latest episode of the E-Commerce Retail Briefing podcast:

Ascena Retail Group is facing more trouble after poor performance of almost all its brands. According to Bloomberg, the company is in discussions to sell its plus brands Lane Bryant and Catherine’s. A sale would mean a huge cut to Ascena’s empire, which currently has over 3,500 stores and would counteract a string of acquisitions made since 2015.

  • Jonathan Johnson has formally been named Overstock’s CEO after taking on the role on an interim basis last month. Allison Abraham, Chairwoman of Overstock’s Board of Directors, believes Johnson is the best choice to lead the company. She said, “He has the right experience in both our retail and blockchain businesses, and the Board has confidence in his ability to deliver value to our shareholders.”
  • Marshalls has unveiled its new e-commerce website. The online and mobile site is the off-price retailer’s official entry into e-commerce. Marshalls’ online selection will feature similar categories to its brick-and-mortar locations, including apparel, home, accessories, and beauty, but the specific product assortment will be unique to the online site. The new website offers interactive features like swipe to shop, a mobile feature that allows customers to view and sort products by swiping left or right to buy or save them for later. The site will also feature curated shops that will be refreshed frequently.
  • Ikea will debut a new store concept in New York. The popular home furnishing company has plans to open a 115,000 square foot store in Queens in 2020. It will be the first Ikea to open in the U.S. with a new format and layout to support a seamless omnichannel experience for customers. The new Queens site will offer a range of services including home delivery, assembly, and installation.

Ascena May Sell Plus Size Brands Catherines and Lane Bryant

According to Bloomberg, Ascena Retail Group is in discussions to sell its plus size women’s apparel brands, Catherines and Lane Bryant. The news comes as the company makes drastic changes to right-size its operations in the midst of poor performance at almost all its brands. Ascena is already in the process of shuttering Dress Barn after failing to find a buyer.  Selling Lane Bryant and Catherine’s would mean a significant cut for Ascena, which currently has around 3,500 stores, and would reverse a string of acquisitions that culminated with the purchase of Ann Taylor and its Loft chain in 2015.

Consumer demand for inclusive sizing has seen dedicated specialty stores for plus or petite sizes fall out of favor. Lane Bryant, which once had a strong following, reflects this trend in its results. The company’s comps, combined with Catherine’s, fell 3% in the most recent quarter. Net sales fell to $311.5 million from $312.8 million last year. While the plus-size brands are facing trouble, it’s still an underserved market. Some analysts believe the plus brands would do well if integrated with the company’s premium Ann Taylor or Loft brands.