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Ascena Retail Group, Inc. Reports Fourth Quarter And Fiscal Year 2012 Results

Net sales for the fourth quarter of Fiscal 2012 increased 29% to $939.7 million, compared to $725.8 million for last year’s fourth quarter on a reported basis. On an adjusted basis, net sales for the fourth quarter of Fiscal 2012 increased 8%. Such increase was largely driven by strong growth in sales from new stores and e-commerce, as well as an overall comparable store sales increase of 2%, led by Justice at 5%. Consolidated comparable store sales include stores open for at least one year and do not include e-commerce sales results. The Company was pleased to note that e-commerce sales on an adjusted basis, which excludes Charming results, increased 49% to $39 million versus last year’s comparable period. The Company’s comparable store sales and net sales by brand for the fiscal fourth quarter were as follows:

Fourth Quarter Sales (Unaudited)
    Net Sales (millions)
Comparable July 28,   July 30,
Store Sales 2012 2011
Justice 5 % $291.7 $262.5
Lane Bryant* 3 %   119.7   --
maurices 1 % 201.5 183.0
dressbarn 1 % 290.4 280.3
Catherines* 11 %   36.4   --
Total Company 3 % $939.7 $725.8
*Comparable store sales and net sales for Lane Bryant and Catherines include sales from the acquisition date of June 14, 2012 through the end of the fiscal period for all stores that were open in both that period and the comparative period in the prior year.

Gross margin for the fourth quarter of Fiscal 2012 increased to $501.6 million, or 53.4% of sales, compared to $400.2 million, or 55.1% of sales last year on a reported basis. On an adjusted basis, gross margin for the fourth quarter of Fiscal 2012 was $433.7 million, or 55.4% of sales. Gross margin improvement of 30 basis points on an adjusted basis was primarily due to stronger margin performance at Justice and maurices, offset in part by lower margins at dressbarn.

Occupancy, distribution and buying costs (“B&O”) expenses for the fourth quarter of Fiscal 2012, which are now presented separately in the consolidated financial statements, were $156.9 million, or 16.7% of sales, compared to $121.4 million, or 16.7% of sales last year on a reported basis. On an adjusted basis, B&O was $126.3 million, or 16.1% of sales. The 60 basis point improvement on an adjusted basis was primarily due to increased leverage on the higher sales volume.

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