NEW YORK — Spot-on fashion and well-managed inventories more than doubled AnnTaylor Stores Corp.'s first-quarter earnings on a 17 percent sales gain.
For the quarter ended April 29, the specialty retailer's net income rose to $39 million, or 53 cents a diluted share, from $17 million, or 24 cents, in the prior year on sales that climbed to $556.2 million from $476.4 million.
Same-store sales gained 5.6 percent. By division, Ann Taylor's comps showed a 7.4 percent increase while Ann Taylor Loft gained 4.7 percent. The gross margin rose to 56.66 percent in the quarter, which compares with 51.03 in the prior year. The company said total inventories were down 19 percent by the close of the quarter, which is on a per-square-foot basis, year-over-year.
Kay Krill, president and chief executive officer, said in a statement that the company has worked diligently over the past year to execute "initiatives designed to deliver profitable growth by providing our client with brand-appropriate and trend-right product while carefully managing our inventory. In the first quarter we did just that at both Ann Taylor and Loft."
Due to the strong results, Krill said the company is "raising our annual earnings per share guidance by [10 cents] per diluted share."
During the conference call with analysts, Krill said "the assortment in each division was brand-appropriate with the right balance of end use and the right color focus."
"As you know, one of our primary objectives over the last year or so has been to more clearly differentiate our brand," Krill explained. "Based on the branding work we did in early 2005, we are definitely seeing the impact of these efforts."
Krill said all regions, volume groups, store types and divisions delivered positive same-store sales during the quarter. "At the same time, our improved inventory position contributed significantly to our higher gross margins and earnings growth," she added.
During the quarter, Krill said holiday selling was particularly strong. President's Day weekend and Easter reached a five-year high. "In fact, the Saturday before Easter, this year, was bigger than Black Friday in sales," Krill said, "underscoring the fact that our client comes to us for her Easter wardrobing needs."From a color perspective, neutrals outperformed for the quarter, led by black, brown and our ivory neutral offering," Krill added. "Petites also had an excellent quarter, and in fact were strong in both divisions. As you know, there's been some consolidation in this market. And this is an opportunity that we are pursuing."
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast