WASHINGTON WOMEN: THE ANN TAYLOR TAKE
Byline: Kristi Ellis
WASHINGTON — Washington women may be labeled conservative dressers, but that doesn’t mean they lack style.
At least that’s the perspective of Kim Roy, president of Ann Taylor Stores Corp., who came to town recently for an Elle magazine event in one of her stores.
“Fashion in Washington is very updated classic,” said Roy. “There is a great populace of working women who love to look feminine and polished and put together.”
She said women in the greater Washington area, who shop at 12 full-price Ann Taylor stores, are buying from three strong trends, including black and white updated classic spectator looks, soft feminine colors and florals and natural linen colors related to animal prints.
“We think all three trends are doing well in the Washington market,” Roy said. “The suitings, career part of our business is very strong in Washington.”
By contrast, the casual component of Ann Taylor’s business is stronger on the West Coast.
She said Ann Taylor is meeting its plans for spring in the Washington area and around the country.
“We are very optimistic about our performance,” she said. “We are ahead of plan and pleased with full-price sell-throughs.”
She noted consumers are buying multiple items, which suggests the synergistic approach to the collection is working.
“People are responsive to our spring collection and the suiting and dress business is excellent,” Roy added.
The company plans to open a new 7,500-square-foot store, which will carry misses’ and petite sizes, on Connecticut Avenue in Washington at the end of September, Roy said.
Although the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks curtailed the company’s fourth-quarter plans, Roy said consumers are beginning to spend again. Ann Taylor reported a net loss of $332,000 in the fourth quarter due to a one-time pretax charge of $17 million relating to inventory write-offs and the write-down of its Internet assets.
“We had a very conservative plan for the fourth quarter after Sept. 11,” Roy said. “Now people are starting to feel a sense of recovery and that’s being reflected in the traffic and in the business.”