The struggling parent of Lane Bryant, Dress Barn, Catherines, Justice, Maurices and Loft – all with locations in Wichita – said last week that it will close more than 250 stores nationwide over the next two years as it tries to deal with falling traffic in its stores.
Ascena CEO David Jaffe, on a conference call with analysts, said the company is speeding up its efforts to adapt to the growth in online shopping. Just 8.5 percent of retail sales are online, but they are growing five times faster than overall retail sales.
As part of that effort, he said, the company will close more than 250 stores by July 2019. The company is prepared to close another 400 or so stores, he said, if landlords don’t agree to lower rents.
The company did not release a list of specific stores slated for closure.
The company has 14 stores in six different brands in Sedgwick County. Maurices alone has five locations in Wichita and Derby.
Jaffe expects to spend the money saved to invest in the company’s new technology and operations to increase sales and efficiency.
“This reflects an extremely competitive market environment characterized by persistent store traffic declines and intense promotional activity,” he told analysts. “We expect these factors will remain major headwinds for the foreseeable future and reflects an accelerated shift in consumer demand toward e-commerce.”