• Q1 profit down 9.3% to $43.1m
  • Sales jumped 48% to $1.14bm
  • Gross margin improved to 57.6%

Women's wear retailer Ascena Retail Group has seen its first-quarter net profit decline 9.3% despite booking an increase in sales.

Net income reached US$43.1m for the quarter to 27 October, compared to $47.5m last year. 

Net sales jumped 48% to $1.14bn from $768m the same period last year. The company attributed the increase to the inclusion of sales from the newly-acquired Lane Bryant and Catherines businesses as well as sales growth from the company's Dressbarn, Maurices and Justice brands.

Comparable store sales edged up 1% led by the Justice and Catherines brands.

Online sales surged 156% to $83m on a consolidated basis and 42% on a comparable basis. Gross margin improved slightly to 57.6% compared to 57.2% the prior year.

President and CEO David Jaffe said: "We are pleased to have begun the fiscal year with a strong quarter.

"We exceeded our financial and operational plan and made good progress with respect to the integration of our most recent strategic acquisition. We remain confident that the Lane Bryant and Catherines brands will become important value drivers for our shareholders over the long-term."

"While we remain generally optimistic, the bulk of the Holiday retail season remains in front of us. Also during the upcoming weeks, we look forward to additional clarity regarding the current fiscal and macroeconomic uncertainty that could affect consumers in the coming year.

"At present, we remain comfortable with our previously issued guidance for the full year and look forward to updating our view of the business following the holiday season."