International News - Ann Taylor tests staff programme to boost customer conversion rates

US clothing retailer Ann Taylor Stores is testing a staff training programme aimed at driving customer conversion rates.

Bear Stearns retail analyst Dana Telsey said the store group has begun piloting the initiative in 'several stores in one region'. She reported in a note that chief operating officer Barry Erdos believes the retailer will draw 70 million potential customers into its stores this year, of which approximately 16 per cent will convert to buyers.

Almost US$100 million (£62.2 million) can be added to sales if an additional 1 per cent of customers are converted with an average spend of US$140 (£87), Telsey said.

Tesley added that Ann Taylor plans to boost its rate of expansion this year to between 75 and 85 stores after cutting back last year.

The retailer already has deals to open 15 Ann Taylor stores, taking numbers to 366, and 65 Loft stores, increasing outlets to 241.