Charming Shoppes Inc. announced a restructuring plan designed to boost profits by closing more than 207 stores.

The Bensalem, Pa.-based retailer, which specializes in plus-size women's apparel, said units to be closed include 130 under-performing Fashion Bug stores and all 77 Added Dimensions/Answer stores. Charming Shoppes will convert an additional 44 under-performing Fashion Bug stores into Lane Bryant shops.

Since its acquisition by Lane Bryant, Charming Shoppes has been reviewing its operations to determine its most profitable brands, Chairman and CEO Dorrit Bern noted in a statement. The company operates 2,446 stores under different brand names.

"Closing our Added Dimensions chain of stores results from our decision to redeploy our resources to other brands," Bern said. The company operates 77 Added Dimensions and The Answer stores in 23 states. Most are in the Southeast and Northeast.

All stores are scheduled to be closed or converted by February, 2003, Charming Shoppes said. It said the move will result in $37.5 million in non-recurring, pre-tax charges — equal to $23 million after-tax, or $0.21 per share — in fourth quarter 2002.

After completing the restructuring, annualized pre-tax earnings are projected to reach $12 million, the company said.

With nearly $2.5 billion in projected annual revenues, Charming Shoppes is now the third largest specialty apparel retailer in America.

-- Staff and wire reports