Strong Online Sales Help Maurices Continue Growth

New store openings in the United States and in Canada have also helped the women’s clothing retailer, which posted record sales in its most recent quarter.

Duluth-based women’s clothing retailer Maurices, Inc., has been on a growth spurt recently thanks to strong online sales and new store openings.
The company, which in September reported record profits for its 2012 fiscal year, has continued the trend into its new fiscal year. For the first quarter that ended on October 27, profits were up 24.8 percent year-over-year to $29.6 million, Maurices’ parent company, Ascena Retail Group, Inc., recently announced. Sales for the quarter totaled a record $224.6 million, up 10.6 percent from the same period last year.
Ascena is a Suffern, New York-based public company that also owns retail brands Justice, Lane Bryant, and Dressbarn.
During the parent company’s earnings call last week, Ascena CEO David Jaffe told investors that new store openings, “a solid November and Black Friday weekend,” and 51 percent growth in online sales contributed to a strong quarter for Maurices.
Ascena officials told investors in September that Maurices had been beefing up its social media and e-mail marketing efforts.
Maurices opened nine new stores, including one in Canada, during its first quarter, Jaffe said. The company plans to open 13 new stores in its second quarter and a total of 70 stores in fiscal 2013, including 15 in Canada. There are now 840 Maurices stores in 45 states and Canada.
For its 2012 fiscal fourth quarter that ended in July, Maurices’ profits totaled a record $14.7 million, up about 2 percent year-over-year, and its sales totaled $202 million, up 10 percent from the same quarter of the prior year.
Profits for the full 2012 fiscal year totaled nearly $103 million, the retailer’s second-highest annual profits on record and topped only by 2011’s $114.6 million. Sales for the year increased 10 percent to $853 million.
Maurices President George Goldfarb told the Duluth News Tribune that the chain will continue to grow and perform well.
Goldfarb was reportedly disappointed with the company’s same-store sales increase of 1 percent during its last fiscal year and said that the small increase was because the company had fallen behind on fashion trends. Same-store sales, or sales at stores open for at least a year, is a key barometer of retail performance.
For its 2013 first quarter, same-store sales increased 3 percent as compared to the same period last year. Goldfarb told the Duluth newspaper that the company is getting ahead of the fashion curve and its sales show it.
Meanwhile, in addition to growing sales, Maurices has also been steadily growing its employee base. Having 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—chosen earlier this year to receive a portion of $47.5 million in previously unallocated state funds that were part of a $496 million bonding bill. Maurices employs about 365 at it headquarters and about 6,000 companywide.