Ascena Retail Group said Monday it was winding down its Dressbarn retail operations, resulting in the closure of about 650 stores across the country. The company, which also owns apparel chains Ann Taylor and Loft, said it wants to focus on its more profitable brands.

"For more than 50 years, Dressbarn has served women's fashion needs, and we thank all of our dedicated associates for their commitment to Dressbarn and our valued customers,” Steven Taylor, Dressbarn chief financial officer, said in a statement. “This decision was difficult, but necessary, as the Dressbarn chain has not been operating at an acceptable level of profitability in today's retail environment.”

The company did not say when Dressbarn will shut all its stores. Dressbarn employs about 6,800 people.

The retailer said customers will be able to continue to shop from Dressbarn stores and online, as the closures won’t take place immediately.

"Dressbarn associates will be notified when decisions are made about specific store closures and provided with transition support. Dressbarn intends to continue paying its vendors and suppliers in full in the ordinary course for products and services provided to Dressbarn during its wind down process," the company said.

Dressbarn, which has been around for more than five decades, has struggled to grow in apparel retailing with competitors such as H&M and Zara, off-price chains such as TJ Maxx and Ross Stores, and Target. 

After the news was announced Monday, shares of Ascena Retail Group Inc. rose 1.76 percent in after-hours trading. Shares of the Mahwah, New Jersey-based company are down more than 50 percent so far this year.

In 2019, several retailers announced store closures. With Dressbarn closures, there are more than 7,000 closings announced for 2019, including companies from Payless ShoeSource to Gymboree to Charlotte Russe, Victoria’s Secret and Gap. Sears, a giant in the retail space that has been in business for more than a century, filed for bankruptcy last October.

Shopping A woman walks out of a Kate Spade store in the SoHo neighborhood of Manhattan. Photo: Spencer Platt / Getty