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Duluth-based Maurices posts record profits

Duluth-based Maurices has ended its fiscal year with record-breaking profits and sales. For the first time in the retail chain's history, total sales surpassed $1 billion, up 9 percent over last year, according to the company's annual results. Sa...

Duluth-based Maurices has ended its fiscal year with record-breaking profits and sales.
For the first time in the retail chain’s history, total sales surpassed $1 billion, up 9 percent over last year, according to the company’s annual results.
Sales were boosted with the addition of 41 stores. Excluding the newly opened stores, sales still increased by 5 percent.
Meanwhile, profits of nearly $126 million were nearly 12 percent of sales, and a 46 percent jump over last year’s $86 million. Last year’s profits, however, were down due to a $13 million charge related to the Studio Y label, which the chain has stopped carrying.
The record results were driven by sales growth at the chain’s existing stores, also called the comparable store sales, combined with record merchandise margins, according to Brian Thun, the company’s chief financial officer.
“We are very proud of our record results in fiscal 2015 and pleased that we continue to produce results near the top on the industry,” said Maurices President and CEO George Goldfarb in a statement, adding that he’s optimistic the momentum will continue into the fall/ winter season.
 “We see a lot of opportunity in our plus-size category and are in the process of rolling out an expansion of our plus-size offerings,” he said.
Maurices’ Duluth store at Miller Hill Mall was among 40 stores that had their plus-size sections expanded earlier this year.
“We did some testing back in March of plus-size,” said Laura Sieger, Maurices’ communications director. “It was so successful, we’ve added more and more stores over time.”
By the holiday shopping season, 600 Maurices stores will have expanded plus-size offerings, and more are already available online, she said.
The company’s initiatives for the new fiscal year include the launching of a new loyalty program with more customer rewards and benefits and creating a seamless shopping experience online, in stores and with cellphones. Maurices also will open 45 new stores, bringing its total number of stores to 1,000 in the United States and Canada by late July 2016.
 The chain, which specializes in fashions for young women, has 955 stores and about 8,700 employees, with about 500 in Duluth. It is owned by the Ascena Retail Group, a publicly traded corporation based in Mahwah, N.J., which also owns Lane Bryant, Catherines and Justice clothing chains.
Maurices is building a new $75 million, 11-story corporate headquarters in downtown Duluth that is expected to be completed next spring.

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