• Q2 earnings were $18.6m
  • Total sales rose 2.8% to $483.5m
  • Ann Taylor rose 8.0% to $207.2m 

Better sales and gross margins at its namesake brand have helped women’s wear retailer Ann Taylor Stores Corporation swing to a second quarter profit.

Earnings were $18.6m or $0.31 per share for the three months to 31 July, compared to a loss of $18m or $0.32 per share during the same period last year. Excluding one-time items, the company earned $0.32per share it said.

“Significantly higher sales and gross margin rate at the Ann Taylor brand drove the increase,” said president and CEO Kay Krill.

Total net sales were $483.5m, a rise of 2.8% on the $470.2m booked in last year’s quarter. By brand, Ann Taylor rose 8.0% to $207.2m while the Loft brand dell 0.8% to $276.2m.

Same-store sales for the quarter increased 6.1% with a rise of 15.2% at Ann Taylor. Loft comparable sales were flat, the company said.

“Both Ann Taylor and Loft have entered the third quarter with clean inventories at levels that, we believe, position the Company for profitable top-line growth,” Krill noted.  

Gross margin, as a percentage of net sales, was up by 260 basis point to 55.0%.

The company, which operates 894 stores, expects third quarter sales to approach $495m, reflecting mid- to high-single digit comparable sales performance. And for the full year, sales are seen at around $1.95bn, with positive same-store sales at both brands.