Ann Inc to open 4 Lou & Grey concept stores this fall

Ann Inc. (NYSE: ANN) is preparing to open four freestanding Lou & Grey concept stores this fall to further expand its successful Lou & Grey loungewear line. The company will also install Lou & Grey boutiques inside current Loft locations.

The first Lou & Grey store will be located in Westport, Conn. The company has not yet indicated where the remaining stores will be located, however, president and CEO Kay Krill told WWD, "We will be trying to test as many different geographic regions as possible, to get a pulse on whether this is an everywhere kind of thing."

The Lou & Grey clothing line is an extension of the retailer's Loft Lounge casual wear collection. Since its 2009 launch, the line comprised of knits, leggings, tunics and other casual items has performed very well for Ann.

"Clients are loving Lou & Grey's effortless casual style. Looking ahead, we are very excited about the potential for this brand. The product assortment combines casual style and comfort and is very much in sync with how women are dressing today," said Krill during an earnings call on Mar. 14. "We really feel like this brand has tremendous growth potential for the corporation."

Lou & Grey is representative of a larger trend as retailers seek to grow new brands within established flagship names. Aeropostale's Live Love Dream and Bethany Mota are intended to breathe new life into the aging teen retailer, representing nearly $200 million in annual sales, according to Belus Capital Advisors' Brian Sozzi, who expects a similar concept launch from Abercrombie & Fitch.

Ann's shop-in-shop concept follows the rollout of Lou & Grey into all 540 Loft stores and online.  In-store shops will be roughly 500 sq. ft. in size on average.

The news of Lou & Grey concept stores follows a strong quarter for Ann. The company's fourth-quarter net income reached $4.7 million compared with $2.4 million in the year-ago quarter.

For more:
-See this Women's Wear Daily article
-See this Ann Inc. earnings call transcript
-See this Belus Capital Advisor blog post

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