Clothing Retailer The Limited To Sell Larger-Sizes Discount Chain
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) _ Women’s clothing retailer The Limited Inc., which entered the larger-sizes market in the early 1980s, announced Monday it would sell its discount Lerner Woman division to a management group led by the division’s president.
The sale will enable the company to concentrate on Lane Bryant, its higher- priced flagship outlet for larger sizes, and other stores, an analyst said.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Limited spokesman Alfred Dietzel said the selling price, in cash and securities, was expected to approximate the book value of Lerner Woman’s assets.
The deal is expected to be completed in June, the company said.
Lerner Woman was created in 1986 as an offshoot of Lane Bryant and merged with discount chain Sizes Unlimited the next year. Aimed mostly at discount shoppers seeking larger sizes, the 382-store chain had sales of $223.7 million in 1988.
It operates under the store names Lerner Woman, Sizes Unlimited, Smart Sizes and Sizes Woman.
Columbus-based The Limited, with $4 billion in sales last year, operates more than 3,400 apparel stores nationwide, including The Limited and Limited Express, Ambercrombie & Fitch, Victoria’s Secret and Henri Bendel.
Most stores - with the exception of Lerner Woman - are full-price outlets that tend to be located in regional shopping malls, while Lerner Woman stores generally are located in shopping strips.
″Lerner Woman just had never worked,″ said retail analyst Fred Wintzer of Alex. Brown in Baltimore, Md. ″They’ve got to find a niche, a customer that isn’t being serviced by other chains.
″The top management at The Limited just didn’t have the time to concentrate on that division.″
The Limited acquired the Sizes Unlimited chain in 1982 and Lane Bryant in 1986, said a woman at company headquarters in Columbus who refused to give her name.
Donald Trott, a retail analyst for Dean Witter in New York, said the deal meant The Limited would continue to provide the Rochelle, N.J.-based Lerner Woman with computer and distribution services and management information, for a fee.
″They don’t lose any earnings, and yet through the sale of this (Lerner Woman) they free up some of their assets,″ Trott said. ″It’s a fair deal all the way around.″
Equity of the new corporation initially will be shared equally by Lerner Woman’s management, led by president Raphael Benaroya, The Limited and Centre Capital, the company said in a statement.