Hurt by sluggish traffic, steeper promotions and the impact of the Internet, the Ascena Retail Group Inc. said its net loss for the second fiscal quarter widened to $35 million, or 18 cents a diluted share,  compared to a net loss of $23 million last year, or 12 cents a share.

Net sales for the second quarter ended Jan. 28 were $1.748 billion compared to $1.842 billion in the year-ago period. Comparable sales declined 4 percent.

“Reflecting on our second quarter results, we saw a continuation of trends that have been in place for some time,” said David Jaffe, president and chief executive officer of Ascena. “While we remain generally pleased with selling performance during peaks, our base business remained soft due to ongoing store traffic headwinds and overall customer price sensitivity, which have become persistent issues impacting our larger sector. While our second quarter comp sales were in line with our guidance, we were forced to be much more promotional than planned to achieve this level of performance.”

Jaffe also cited the “disruptive trend toward e-commerce transactions, and the growing influence of online engagement on traditional brick and mortar activity across our sector.”

“We’ve invested heavily in our omni-channel platform over a multi-year period, and we continue to aggressively evolve our organization to embrace and serve customers in this new retailing paradigm. Yet, there is much more to do. As part of our ‘change for growth’ transformation work, we are developing advanced analytics and customer experience management capabilities that will enhance our opportunities to drive revenue and margin.”


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