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Wet Seal winding down Arden B, closing some stores

FOOTHILL RANCH, Calif. (AP) -- Wet Seal is winding down its Arden B retail store business, and will close 31 locations by the end of fiscal 2015.

The company currently has 54 Arden B stores and 478 Wet Seal stores.

The retailer said Friday that 31 Arden B locations will shift to Wet Seal Plus merchandise. The remaining 23 locations will transition from Arden B to regular Wet Seal merchandise. The company anticipates completing the conversion before the back-to-school season in late July.

Stores slated for closing will do so when leases expire, or through early termination provisions. Wet Seal Inc. will close 15 Arden B stores in fiscal 2014 and 16 in fiscal 2015. For the interim period that the stores are open they will offer Wet Seal or Wet Seal Plus merchandise.

"This was a difficult decision that followed a comprehensive review of the business and market dynamics," said CEO John Goodman.

The company anticipates $3 million in charges during the first quarter of fiscal 2014 pertaining to Arden B store assets. It also expects $100,000 in severance charges, and $300,000 in charges for employee retention programs in the second and third quarters.

Arden B made up 11 percent of all consolidated sales for the fiscal year ended Feb. 1.

The Foothill Ranch. Calif. company reaffirmed its forecast for a first-quarter loss of 16 cents to 19 cents per share. Analysts surveyed by FactSet expect a loss of 18 cents per share.