Lane Bryant is a big name in women's plus-size fashion. The nation's #1 plus-size clothing chain operates some 800 full-line and outlet stores in about 45 states that sell moderately-priced private label and select name brand career and casual apparel (in sizes 12 to 32), accessories, hosiery, and intimate apparel for women ages 35 to 55. Lane Bryant stores are found in malls and strip shopping centers and average about 5,500 square feet. Women can also shop online at lanebryant.com. Founded in 1904 by Lena Bryant (she misspelled her name on a bank loan), Lane Bryant is owned by Ascena Retail Group.
Ascena Retail Group in June 2012 acquired Charming Shoppes (Lane Bryant's former parent company) for $900 million. It was charmed by Charming Shoppes plus-size apparel businesses: Lane Bryant and its smaller sister-chain Catherine's Plus Sizes. The deal gave Ascena (formerly Dress Barn) entry into the burgeoning plus-size market. It intends to grow both the Lane Bryant and Catherine's brands, which now operate as a separate subsidiary of Ascena.
The plus-size retailer operates about 685 Lane Bryant stores and more than 115 Lane Bryant Outlet shops. Also, about 20% of the retailer's stores conform to its side-by-side format: a Lane Bryant store paired with a Cacique intimate apparel shop. The side-by-side shops are larger (about 7,200 square feet) than traditional Lane Bryant stores and offer national brands alongside Lane Bryant and Cacique brand apparel. In addition to its retail stores, Lane Bryant has a growing online business.
Lane Bryant was Charming Shoppes' largest business, accounting for more than 50% of its fiscal 2012 (ends January) sales. Lane Bryant's sales increased 1.4% in fiscal 2012 vs. the prior year, while Charming Shoppes other retail chains, including Catherine's, saw their sales decline. Same-store sales at Lane Bryant shops grew 3% and the online business posted a double-digit gain in sales. Indeed, Lane Bryant was ailing Charming Shoppes' star performer. Freed from that sinking ship, the plus-size apparel chain has the opportunity to grow under Ascena's ownership and healthy balance sheet. Lane Bryant's store count dwindled (from 860 stores two years ago to about 800 at present), as Charming Shoppes struggled.
Ascena Retail is wasting no time launching a big new national marketing campaign and branding effort for Lane Bryant to debut in September 2012. The campaign will feature print ads, an updated brand logo and color scheme, updated in-store visuals, and supporting web and social media sites. Indeed, it's Lane Bryant's first new marketing effort since 2008. The rebranding also includes Lane Bryant's intimate apparel line Cacique. The print campaign features some of the plus-size industry's most popular models.
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