May 24, 2012 / 4:49 PM / in 5 years

Ann Taylor to open first non-US stores in Canada

(Reuters) - U.S. women's apparel retailer Ann Inc ANN.N said on Thursday it plans to open two of its Ann Taylor stores in Toronto in the fall of 2012.

The new outlets will be Ann's first outside the United States, and the company said the Canadian initiative is a first step in boosting its "global presence".

"We are pleased by the strong awareness Ann Taylor already enjoys in Canada," Ann Taylor Brand President Brian Lynch said in a statement.

Ann Taylor joins a growing number of U.S. retailers heading to Canada, lured by a comparatively resilient economy, a strong currency and shoppers that are often already familiar with their brands thanks to U.S. media.

Specialty clothing retailer Express Inc (EXPR.N) opened its first Canadian store last fall. Home improvement chain Lowe's Cos Inc (LOW.N) is looking to expand in the country, and Target Corp (TGT.N) looks set to shake up the market when it opens its first outlets in Canada next March or April.

New York-based Ann reported quarterly earnings that topped analyst expectations last week, and said it would scale back discounting at Ann Taylor to boost profitability.

Reporting By Allison Martell; Editing by Peter Galloway

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