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Ascena Retail Group Inc. will start winding down its Dressbarn clothing chain, the latest upheaval in a continued retail shakeout.

After trying to find a new owner, Ascena said Monday it’s preparing to close the approximately 650-store chain, including outlets in North Little Rock and Fort Smith. No timeline was given, and stores will remain open until the wind-down commences.

A location in Conway closed previously.

Dressbarn employs about 6,800 people.

Ascena, whose brands have come under pressure as consumer tastes shift, needs to make changes after posting more than $1 billion of losses in the past four years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

“This decision was difficult, but necessary, as the Dressbarn chain has not been operating at an acceptable level of profitability in today’s retail environment,” Dressbarn Chief Financial Officer Steven Taylor said in a statement Monday.

Bloomberg reported in March that Ascena was exploring options for Dressbarn, which was struggling with a host of competitors from fast-fashion purveyors like H&M to Amazon.com. Its demise marks the end of yet another chain born in the New York area, less than a year after the final shutdown of New Jersey-based Toys R Us.

Roslyn and Elliot Jaffe opened the first Dressbarn in 1962 in Stamford, Conn., according to the chain’s website, with Rosyln choosing the name shortly before it opened to denote fashion and value. After acquiring several other women’s and children’s clothing brands, the company reorganized its structure in 2011 and changed its name to Ascena. The Mahwah, N.J.-based company has built up an array of retail chains, most recently with the 2015 purchase of Ann Taylor and Loft brands.

Now Ascena has been unwinding some of those purchases. In March, it announced that it sold a majority stake in its Maurices chain to private-equity chain OpCapita for $300 million.

Details of the closing of individual locations and plans for job cuts will be shared as the wind-down progresses, the company said. The retailer says it will continue to pay its vendors and suppliers in full for products and services during the process.

Information for this article was contributed by The Associated Press.

Read Wednesday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misstated the number of stores that would close in Arkansas. A Dressbarn location in Conway has already closed.

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  • 0boxerssuddenlinknet
    May 21, 2019 at 5:46 p.m.

    sorry for the employees i've only been in one of their stores 14 years ago and the material the clothes were less than second rate. don't think the closures had anything to do with trends but more likely due to quality or lack thereof.

  • conservative
    May 21, 2019 at 6:17 p.m.

    . . .never heard of them. (could care less)

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