Ascena Retail Group has refused to be drawn into speculation it is mulling the sale of its Dressbarn unit.

According to a report in Bloomberg earlier this week, citing people familiar with the matter, the Ann Taylor, Loft and Lane Bryant chain-owner, is looking at offloading its lower-priced women's clothing chain Dressbarn.

Data compiled by the newswire suggests Ascena has tallied more than US$1bn in losses over the past four years and labours under a debt burden of "about $1.6bn".

Last month the group booked a second-quarter net loss of US$72m compared with a loss of $39m a year earlier, which it blamed on "macro-headwinds" impacting the sector.

A week later the group announced it was to sell a stake in the Maurice's women's clothing chain for US$300m to London-based private equity firm OpCapita.

While yesterday (3 April), Shawn Buchanan, Ascena's vice president of corporate communications, declined to comment on the issue.

"It is Ascena's longstanding policy not to comment on market rumour or speculation," he said.