Lofty ambition: Ann Inc. to expand Lou & Grey chain
Publish Date: August 27, 2014
Ann Inc. plans to expand its new concept Lou & Grey to six stores in coming months. Lou & Grey is a mix of casual and loungewear apparel that started out as a house brand within the company’s Loft stores. New York City-based Ann Inc., which operates 261 Ann Taylor stores, 113 Ann Taylor Factory stores, 546 Loft stores and 122 Loft Outlet stores, opened a Lou & Grey shop-in-shop at its Loft store in Westport, Conn., in April. Between September and November, new Lou & Grey-branded stores will open in Boston; Atlanta; Los Angeles; Chicago; Dallas and Raleigh, N.C., in that order. The retailer is testing malls, street-front locations and lifestyle centers, in a variety of sizes ranging from 1,800 to 2,700 square feet to determine what works best, said president and CEO Kay Krill, in a conference call with investors. “We continue to be very pleased with the response we are seeing,” she said. “The offering is both resonating with existing clients and attracting new clients.” The company has been testing expanded Lou & Grey-branded departments within some existing Loft stores and those stores are outperforming the chain as a whole, she added.
The company is trying to introduce more “novelty” to its apparel designs, as shoppers are not interested in stocking up on basics and are motivated to buy when they find special, fashion-forwarded clothing, Krill said. Same-store sales tumbled 2.3 percent for the second quarter, with a 0.7 percent increase in Ann Taylor comps slightly offsetting a 4.1 percent drop in Loft comps. For the full year, the retailer said it expects comp growth to be flat or slightly negative.