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In furtherance of its expansion strategy to drive top-line growth, the upscale segment retailer Ann Inc. (ANN - Snapshot Report) together with The Breast Cancer Research Foundation® (BCRF), recently opened its first international store in Toronto, Canada. The company also announced its intention to open a second store in the country by the end of November this year, at Yorkdale Shopping Centre, Toronto.

Covering an area of over 3,800 square feet, the store is located at Toronto Eaton Center shopping mall. The new store will offer full range of its women’s apparel and accessories at a similar price as in its U.S stores.

Location wise, the shopping mall is one of the top tourist destinations in Toronto, attracting approximately one million visitors per week. Moreover, the mall is connected with two subway stations, Dundas and Queen, and is linked with The Bay department store and Marriot hotel.

Further, the company, in partnership with BCRF, will host a shopping event on October 13, 2012 from 1pm to 5 pm. An amount equal to 10% of sales from the event will be donated to BCRF.

So far in fiscal 2012, the company has opened 25 stores and shuttered 15. Ann intends to open approximately 65 new stores and close 30 stores in the current fiscal. Excluding the newly opened Canadian store, at present the company operates 962 stores under the names of Ann Taylor, LOFT, Ann Taylor Factory and LOFT Outlet stores across 46 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

We believe the company’s strategy of expanding internationally together with improving its e-commerce capabilities will boost its top and bottom lines.

Ann Taylor currently retains a Zacks #1 Rank implying a short-term Strong Buy rating. Moreover, we are maintaining a long term ‘Outperform’ recommendation on the stock. The company directly competes with Chico's FAS Inc. (CHS - Snapshot Report).

Headquartered in New York, New York, Ann operates as a national retailer of upscale women's clothing. Its stores offer a full range of apparel and accessories under the names Ann Taylor, Ann Taylor Studio, ATdenim, Ann Taylor Petites and LOFT. It serves customers through its traditional retail stores, online stores – anntaylor.com and LOFTonline.com – as well as via phone. The company targets college-educated women between the ages of 25 and 55, who are either professionals or employed in managerial positions.

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