Last week, in my analysis of Christopher & Banks'
So it should come as no surprise that it was the trend-right assortment of "wear now" merchandise that helped Dress Barn
Fiscal 2006 fourth-quarter net revenues increased 12% over the same period a year ago, driven by strong comparable same-store sales growth of 7%. Its Maurices concept experienced a 3% decline in comps, but that was more than offset by a 12% comps increase at Dress Barn. If we exclude litigation reserve reversal in last year's quarter, earnings per diluted share increased 59%.
The performance of Maurices was indeed a disappointment, but don't write that brand off too quickly. According to management's remarks during the conference call, Maurices is enjoying a "solid rebound" this fall. The concept is expected to witness strong top-line growth in fiscal 2007, driven by a 10% uptick in new-store openings and an estimated 4% increase in comps.
Dress Barn is also off to a good start this fall season, with comps maintaining a double-digit pace. Customers continue to opt for dress fashions, and the cooler-than-normal fall weather in some parts is fueling sales for "wear now" items. More specifically, colors such as browns, reds, and teals are selling well.
As for the always-important inventory situation, management characterized both concepts as being in "excellent shape" and said it was satisfied with both the "level and composition" of inventory. The efficient inventory management continues to enable the company to maintain what management calls a "constant newness" with merchandise.
Overall, you have to like what's going on at Dress Barn. The company is in a groove with trend-right fashions that are hitting store floors at the right time and in the right amounts. And, best of all, Dress Barn isn't satisfied. With Dress Barn's revenues at $150 per square foot, and Maurices at $170, management believes that both figures can be improved in light of what some of the competition is achieving.
Dress Barn just hit a home run, and now it is looking for more. This no doubt is welcome news for shareholders and prospective investors alike.
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Fool contributor Jeremy MacNealy has no financial interest in any company mentioned.
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