Joele Frank and ICR are working the Chapter 11 filing of Ascena Retail Group, owner of the Ann Taylor, LOFT and Lane Bryant stores, a restructuring that will slash corporate debt by $1B.

ARG, which has 2,800 outlets, claims the revamp will provide the financial flexibility to allow it to focus on generating growth and driving value for customers and stakeholders.

Interim executive chair Carrie Teffner said the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted progress made to improve operating margins and strengthen the company's financial position.

The restructuring plan "will deleverage our balance sheet, right-size our operations and inject new capital into the business," according to Teffner.

ARG plans to "strategically reduce in footprint" by closing a "select number" of Ann Taylor, LOFT, Lane Bryant and Lou & Grey stores, along with a "significant number" of Justice outlets.

The number of shutdowns depends on the outcome of negotiations with landlords to reach agreement on "sustainable lease structures." ARG believes it is in the best long-term interests of landlords to partner with it to keep as many stores open as possible.

The company is exiting the Canada, Mexico and Puerto Rico markets and shuttering its Catherines store chain.

Joele Frank, Wilkinson Brimmer Katcher's Meaghan Repko, Leigh Parrish and Dan Moore are handling media for ARG, while ICR's Jean Fontana is working the investment community.