By  on November 17, 2004

NEW YORK — The Dress Barn Inc. is expected to announce today that it has inked a deal to purchase specialty chain Maurices Inc. for about $325 million.

Sources familiar with the transaction said the deal is likely to close sometime during the first quarter of 2005. Officials at both companies could not be reached for comment.

Sources also said that Dress Barn had been looking at acquisition opportunities during the past few years, but those explorations over how to grow the business never came to fruition until the Maurices opportunity.

Dress Barn, based in Suffern, N.Y., was founded by chairman Elliot S. Jaffe in 1962. Maurices, headquartered in Duluth, Minn., opened its first door in 1931.

While Dress Barn targets an older customer base between ages 35 and 55, Maurices’ typical customer is in her early 20s. Both also sell mostly private label merchandise, with Dress Barn almost all private label and Maurices at about the 75 percent range.

Dress Barn’s sales for the quarter ended Oct. 30 rose 2 percent to $197.1 million from $192.5 million in the year-ago period, while same-store sales inched up 1 percent.

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