Plans call for the chain to open 39 Maurices units in thespring, while closing one store. Also continuing are plans to moveprimarily out of malls and into strip centers, and a search for astrategic purchase, said David R. Jaffe, president and CEO. Thecompany has been compiling cash, he said.

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"We are building our cushion for a potential acquisition," Jaffesaid. "We have a significant opportunity to provide value and driveour business."

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Net sales for the quarter were $345.6 million, up 2% from thesame quarter last year. Comparable-store sales dropped 4%. Netearnings were $7.4 million, down from $17.0 million in theprior-year period.

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Dress Barn operates 819 Dressbarn stores in 46 states and 638Maurices stores in 43 states.

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