Dress Barn Acquires Tween Brands

Woman’s clothing retailer Dress Barn has acquired Tween Brands in an all-stock deal worth $157 million. The merger deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter, and has been approved by both company’s boards of directors.

A multichannel retailer of fashion and accessories for girls age seven to 14, Tween Brands operates the Justice retail chain. In 2008 it rebranded its Limited Too stores under that brand name.

Tween Brands will operate as a separate subsidiary of Dress Barn, and will be headed up by Mike Rayden, who was Tween Brands’ chairman/CEO; Rayden will report directly to Dress Barn president/CEO David Jaffe.

Why Tween Brands? Dress Barn in 2005 acquired fashion merchant Maurice’s which targets women in their 20s, so adding the younger customer will diversify and complement the existing holdings, Jaffe said in a statement.

Tween Brand’s first-quarter net sales were $205.2 million, down 18% from the quarter that ended May 3, 2008. Tween Brands did not break out its direct sales, but said in its most recent 10-Q that its comparable store sales were down 23% for the first quarter.

Dress Barn/Dress Barn Woman did $223.2 million in sales in the quarter ended April 23, up from $216.8 million in the third quarter last year. Third-quarter sales for the Maurice’s chain were $152.5 million, up from $135.8 last year.

The merger will give Dress Barn 2,465 stores. Dress Barn and Maurice’s also have an e-commerce presence, while Justice also has a catalog.

But Tween Brands has scaled back its direct presence considerably. Tween Brands cut circulation of its Justice catalog 39%, from mailing 21.5 million books in the first quarter of 2008 to 13.1 million households in the first quarter of 2009.

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