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Ascena Retail Group Inc. (ASNA - Snapshot Report) began the month of May by taking its store expansion plans ahead with the opening of two new Lane Bryant stores at Woodhaven Commons in Woodhaven, MI and Peabody Place in Peabody, MA.

The celebrations to mark the inauguration of these stores were held over the weekend from May 2 to May 4. During the weekend, Lane Bryant gave away 50 gift cards worth $25 to customers on each day as well as $25 Real Women Dollars for every $50 purchase made in store.

It seems that the store expansion plan of Ascena is gaining pace again this year. In April, the company opened 4 new Lane Bryant stores at the Elmore Marketplace in Davenport, IA; at Alliance Town Center in Fort Worth, TX; at Genesee Valley Center in Flint, MI; and at Burnsville Center in Burnsville, MN.

Additionally, it unveiled 3 Lane Bryant stores at March-end. These stores, inaugurated on Mar 28, are located at Chimney Rock in Odessa, TX; The Shoppes at Gary Farms in Bowling Green, KY; and Willow Ridge Plaza in Marlton, NJ. Including the latest stores opened last week, the company has so far opened about 8 Lane Bryant stores in March, 4 stores in April and 2 stores in May.

Lane Bryant is a renowned curvy women's specialty apparel retailer, offering designer and high-quality fashion. The brand’s assortments comprise an extensive range of formal and casual apparel, together with accessories, footwear, hosiery and its intimate apparel range – Cacique. Lane Bryant, which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Ascena, operates over 775 full-line and outlet stores in 48 states across the United States, targeting plus-size women aged 30 to 45 and serves women's sizes 14–28.

Ascena Retail Group is a specialty retailer that offers clothing for women as well as teen girls and boys. The company provides apparel, accessories, footwear, undergarments and lifestyle products such as bedroom furnishings and electronics.

The company’s operating segments include Justice, Lane Bryant, Maurices, Dressbarn and Catherines. Some of the popular brands sold by the company include Justice, Brothers, Lane Bryant, Cacique, Right Fit, Maurices, Studio Y, Dressbarn, Catherines, Maggie Barnes, Liz&Me and Serenada.

As of Mar 3, 2014, Ascena operated nearly 3,900 stores in United States, Puerto Rico and Canada. In its last earnings release, the company outlined its plan to open about 50–70 stores during fiscal 2014.

Other Stocks to Consider

Ascena currently carries a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell). Some better-ranked stocks among apparel retailers include Hanesbrands Inc. (HBI - Analyst Report), V. F. Corp. (VFC - Analyst Report), and American Apparel Inc. (APP - Snapshot Report). Of these, Hanesbrands has a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), while V. F. Corp. and American Apparel carry a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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