During recent customer surveys, management found that the chainis "not as clear or as exciting in stores" as it could be, shesaid. Fourth quarter traffic saw a double-digit decline at thechain.

Same-store sales at Ann Taylor stores fell 7.8% year over yearat Ann Taylor stores. By contrast, comparable sales at its 512 Loftunits only fell 0.5%. The company's overall net sales fell to$600.8 million from $610.5 million during the same year-ago period,while operating income dropped to $18.2 million form $30.5million.

In the coming year, as previously announced, Ann Taylor willclose 64 underperforming stores. There are 50 to 55 openingsplanned, with 20 to 25 of them planned as Ann Taylor outlets, 15Lofts, 10 of the newly launched Loft outlet stores and four AnnTaylors.

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