May 2, 2012, 1:17 PM

Charming Shoppes dresses up for a new owner

Ascena Retail Group will acquire the women’s plus-size apparel retailer for about $890 million.

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Ascena Retail Group will acquire Charming Shoppes for about $890 million.

Plus-size multichannel retailer Charming Shoppes Inc. is headed for new ownership.

Charming Shoppes, No. 132 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide has accepted a tentative deal valued at about $890 million to be acquired by Ascena Retail Group Inc. (No. 284), which operates the Justice, Dress Barn and Maurice’s women’s apparel brands.

Under the terms of the deal, which is expected to close by the end of June, Ascena will acquire all outstanding shares of Charming Shoppes for $7.35 per share. “Charming Shoppes is a superb strategic fit for Ascena,” says Ascena CEO David Jaffe. “A key component of our growth strategy over the past several years has been to make highly selective and powerful acquisitions. We’ve built a family of retail brands, each serving a unique customer niche, with a culture that embraces the sharing of resources, new ideas and talented team members.”

Charming Shoppes operates several brands that serve the plus-size women’s apparel market: Lane Bryant, Catherines Plus Sizes and Fashion Bug. Charming Shoppes, which operates a network of about 1,800 stores, finished 2011 with growing e-commerce sales, but flat comparable-store sales and a decline in total revenue.

For the year ended Jan. 28, Charming Shoppes reported:

  • E-commerce sales increased 16% year over year to about $152.4 million from $131.4 million.
  • Total sales decreased about 3.4% to $1.99 billion in 2011 from $2.06 billion in 2010.
  • Comparable-store sales were flat year over year.
  • Net loss was about $2 million in 2011 compared with a net loss of $54 million.
  • The web accounted for about 7.7% of total sales compared with 6.4% in the prior year.

“I would like to say how pleased we are to join the Ascena Retail Group,” says Charming Shoppes CEO Anthony M. Romano. “David and his team have an excellent track record of acquiring and seamlessly integrating brands with a strong market niche and growth potential, hallmarks of our Charming Shoppes’ brands.

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