In the last two weeks our field team members in select markets, as well as some furloughed corporate team members who support stores, returned to work. We are excited to bring the teams together again and all of us are inspired by their enthusiasm to help us push forward on our path to reopen our stores.
As we look ahead, I want to give you an update on our broader reopening strategy.
We are currently operating almost 900 stores across our brands through ship-from-store and curbside pickup. By next week, we will open our first stores in Texas and South Carolina to the public and we’re piloting a small return to work strategy for our Ohio corporate office for required tasks. As more states announce reopening plans, we’re paying close attention to the policies and directions from each jurisdiction while keeping your health and safety at the center of everything we do.
Just like you, we are eager to reopen our stores and offices, but we’re being cautious. Your health and well-being are our priority and we’re taking time to build practices to help provide a safe environment for you and our customers to work and shop. While we continue to refine our reopening strategy, your temporary furlough will remain in place. To support you during this time, if you are not receiving a paycheck, our coverage of the associate portion of your medical benefits has been extended through the month of June.
The impact of COVID-19 is like nothing any of us have seen before. What keeps me going in this time is the passion our teams have for our brands, our customers, and each other. I am incredibly grateful for your patience and continued commitment.
I will provide another update on May 20, 2020. Until then, please continue to take care of yourself and your family.
Gary Muto, Chief Executive Officer
Are your stores open? When do you expect to open your stores?
- We have been continuously monitoring the impact of COVID-19 and are putting our associates, customers and community at the center of everything we do. In light of the current environment, we have extended the temporary store closures and will continue to reassess as information becomes available.
Are your brands still open online?
- Each of our brands’ online stores are ready to serve you at AnnTaylor.com, factory.anntaylor.com, LOFT.com, outlet.loft.com, louandgrey.com, lanebryant.com, Catherines.com, and shopjustice.com.
Are your brands offering free shipping or free returns? How can I make a return? Are you extending your return policies?
- Due to COVID-19 and the temporary closure of our stores, we have made updates to our shipping and return policies. Specific information for each brand’s policy updates on shipping and return is available on each of the brand’s websites: Ann Taylor, Ann Taylor Factory, LOFT, LOFT Outlet, Lou & Grey, Lane Bryant, Catherines, Justice.
How are you keeping your distribution centers safe?
- As the situation around COVID-19 continues to evolve, the health and safety of our associates remain a priority for us and we are taking the following steps:
- We are providing face masks and gloves for our associates who requests them at our distribution and fulfillment centers.
- We are continuing to follow and communicate to our associates the CDC’s recommended guidance on behaviors like washing hands, social distancing, the cleaning of surfaces and to stay home and seek medical advice if they are exhibiting symptoms of the virus. We are also ensuring that our associates at our distribution and fulfillment centers have an adequate supply of soap, hand sanitizers and disinfectants.
How are you taking care of your teams?
- Since 2007, ascena has maintained the Dimes from the Heart charitable organization which provides emergency assistance funds to associates. The funds are for associates, and funded by associates. Our associates, including associates in our stores and distribution centers and corporate employees below the Vice President level, experiencing financial hardship can now apply for a one-time COVID-19 exception assistance grant. Funds are generally distributed to associates affected by a home catastrophe, natural disaster, funeral expenses, emergency travel, care of a family member, domestic violence or are a victim of a crime. As a result of the unprecedented impact of COVID-19, a one-time exception is being made to the qualifying events noted above for a Dimes from the Heart grant, to include associates with COVID-19. Associates can find more information via myAssociateHUB.
What are you doing to give back?
- As COVID-19 continues to impact our communities, the ascena Foundation is working with our vendors who produce personal protective equipment to mobilize the donation of over 50,000 face masks to the New York Governor’s office, New York City hospitals and the American Red Cross. We want to do our part to support the brave disaster responders and blood drive teams with the critical resources they need to save lives in the midst of this crisis.
- ascena is also donating masks to its charitable partners supporting pediatric health – St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and Nationwide Children’s Hospital, both of which serve at-risk patients.
- During this time of crisis, ascena and its brands will also continue to support its long-standing partners, such as the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF), St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Delivering Good, BSR and Give Back Box.