Ascena cuts 25 at Duluth Maurices office

About 25 positions were eliminated at the Duluth Maurices office Thursday as the company and Ascena Inc., its parent corporation, suffer lagging sales along with many clothing retailers nationwide.

Affected were corporate office employees and remote employees/field leaders, Maurices said in a news release. Employees were told about the decision Thursday.

“Having to say goodbye to great people is truly one the toughest parts of this transformation. I’m so appreciative of the contributions each and every one of them has made to our company and the service they have provided in their time with us,”  George Goldfarb, CEO of the Value Fashion Segment, said in a prepared statement. The Value Fashion Segment includes the maurices and dressbarn brands. “As difficult as these decisions are for everyone, we need to evolve to meet the new reality of retail that’s shifting quickly and customer expectations to be viable and profitable in the future.”

The latest changes follow an earlier phase that was implemented last October. They included a new operating segment model organized around what Ascena believes are today’s customer needs. That model included the Premium Fashion segment, which includes the Ann Taylor, LOFT, Lou and Grey) brands; Value Fashion, in which Maurices and Dressbarn are included; Plus Fashion, composed of Lane Bryant and Catherines, and Kids Fashion, home for the Justice brand.

“With the significant shifts in the retail industry accelerating faster than ever, we’re being very thoughtful in our approach to preserve our strengths, while positioning us for the future,” said David Jaffe, ascena CEO and chairman, also in prepared comments. “The new operating model ensures our customer is at the center of everything we do and is part of our growth strategy.”

Ascena lost 11.9 million during the 53-week period ended July 30. Despite the decline, it was improvement over the same year-earlier period, when the corporation lost $236.8 milion.  Corporation-wide, Ascena said approximately 180 employees were reassigned or relocated and approximately 165 positions were eliminated across ascena locations in the United States.

The corporation has been engaged in an active acquisition effort. Founded in 1962 by Jaffe’s mother Roslyn with a single Dressbarn store, Ascena purchased Maurices in 2005, Justice in 2009, Lane Bryant and Catherines in 2012, Ann Taylor, Lou & Grey and LOFT in 2015.

Other well known retailers have also experienced lagging sales. Macy’s and Wisconsin-based Kohl’s, for example, both experienced a 2.1 percent drop in holiday sales. That compares with 3.1 percent for Ascena. According to the national financial press, Macy’s plans to close 100 stores this year. Sears Holding Co., meanwhile, is shuttering 150 additional Sears and Kmart stores during 2017.