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Ascena Retail Group on Thursday said the winding down of its Dressbarn business is on target, as it released the locations of 53 stores slated to shut by the end of August.
The announcement came amid chatter the business would be forced to file for bankruptcy to break leases.
Ascena announced in May that it planned to wind down Dressbarn and ultimately shut all 650 or so of the women's clothing shops in order to focus on its more profitable brands, like Ann Taylor and Loft.
There has since been some speculation that Dressbarn as a standalone unit would ultimately file for bankruptcy if its landlords didn't agree to relieve the brand of its lease obligations, as it started shutting hundreds of stores within malls and shopping centers across the country. Retail property owners have already been hit by a massive wave of store closures this year, so any further announcements only add to a backlog of empty space.
But the company on Thursday said everything is going as planned and that all stores are expected to be dark by the end of the year.
"We have received overwhelming landlord support for our plan, which will allow us to implement our wind down in a manner that provides the best recovery for our landlords. Further, we are current, and expect to remain so, with our vendors and suppliers," Steven Taylor, Dressbarn CFO, said in a statement.
The company said in a press release that it has started working with Gordon Brothers Retail Partners to assist with the store closures, and with Hilco Streambank to look for buyers for Dressbarn's intellectual property. It also said it's still receiving "fresh inventory," but encouraged customers to "shop early for the best selection, and use any outstanding gift cards."
Malfitano Partners is managing the overall wind down, according to a person familiar.
Dressbarn, which has been around for more than five decades, has struggled to grow in apparel retailing as more women steer toward fast-fashion retailers such as H&M and Zara, off-price chains such as T.J. Maxx and Ross Stores, and even Target. Amazon also continues to take a larger share of the apparel market online.
Dressbarn at the end of June announced the first round of locations, a total of 28 stores, set to close this summer, kicking off the winding-down process.
Ascena shares are down more than 75% this year and trade below $1.
Here's a complete list of the Dressbarn stores set to close in August, according to the company's website: