Duluth-based Maurices Posts Record Profits, Outgrows Its HQ

Profits are up at the women’s clothing retailer thanks to strong online sales and new store openings—including its first six in Canada.

Duluth-based women’s clothing retailer Maurices ended its 2012 fiscal year on a strong note, reporting record profits of $14.7 million—up about 2 percent year-over-year—for its fourth quarter that ended July 28.
 
The company said recently that sales for the quarter totaled $202 million, up 10 percent from the same quarter last year.
 
Profits for the full fiscal year totaled nearly $103 million, the second highest ever reached by Maurices and topped only by 2011’s $114.6 million. Sales for the year increased 10 percent to $853 million.
 
Maurices is owned by Ascena Retail Group, Inc., a Suffern, New York-based public company that also owns retail brands Justice, Lane Bryant, and Dressbarn.
 
During Ascena’s earnings call last week, the parent company’s chief financial officer, Armand Correia, told investors that Maurices’ strong performance can be attributed to new store openings and strong online sales.
 
Maurices opened 57 new stores in fiscal 2012, including its first six stores in Canada. It plans to open another 70 stores in fiscal 2013, including 15 in Canada. There are now about 832 Maurices stores in 45 states and Canada.
 
Meanwhile, the retailer has been beefing up its social media and e-mail marketing efforts, which has helped online sales, Ascena officials said during the earnings call.
 
In addition to growing sales, Maurices has reportedly also been growing its employee base and has outgrown its current headquarters. It plans to move to a new $80 million office building in downtown Duluth in 2015. The building was one of nine projects—which include the new St. Paul Saints stadium in Lowertown—recently chosen to receive a portion of $47.5 million in previously unallocated state funding that was part of a $496 million bonding bill.
 
According to the Duluth News Tribune, Maurices’ corporate offices are currently scattered among four buildings in downtown Duluth, occupying a total of 100,000 square feet. In the past two years, the retailer has reportedly spent $3 million to remodel work spaces and improve the environment for its 365 corporate employees, including adding a gym and a lounge area. But despite the efforts, the offices are reportedly cramped because of the more than 100 employees added in the past five years.
 
At the new 15-story, 300,000-square-foot building, Maurices will reportedly be the anchor tenant and occupy five or six floors, or about 60 percent of the building. The company will invest $30 million in the building, adding to the $8.5 million that the project received from the state. 
 
Maurices’ performance is in stark contrast to that of Christopher & Banks, another local women’s clothing retailer that has struggled in recent years. The Plymouth-based company reported a loss of $2.2 million for the quarter that ended July 28. The company also recently lost numerous key executives—including CEO Larry Barenbaum, who abruptly resigned in February following a disappointing fourth quarter. For the fiscal year that ended January 28, the retailer reported a net loss of $71.8 million, which included $9.8 million in charges related to restructuring efforts.