Claire’s Stores Inc. is a group of small shops indulged in the fashion industries. Rowland Schaefer, the founder of the group, had already acquired a number of shops dealing in fashion accessories since 1960 that finally ended with the acquisition of Claire’s Boutique, Inc. in 1973…
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in 1973. Previously, it known as FT Industries after the acquisition of Fashion Tress, Inc. in 1961, and the new name was conceived in 1983, two years before getting enlisted with the New York Stock Exchange. The latest one, however, had been the biggest of all deals and eventually the most popular one with 60 stores scattered in different parts of Chicago. 1994 saw the industry moving out of homeland when it entered into a joint venture with Japan’s Jusco Co., Ltd., which resulted to the opening of the first branch of Claire’s Stores in Tokyo. Eventually, it spread out to 172 other locations by 2006.
Though the company had been continuing with its overseas acquisitions since 1993, the next biggest one had been that in 1995 when it purchased Bow Bangles Holding Ltd., a Birmingham based chain of stores. It was followed by the acquisition of Bijoux One, a 53-chain store scattered across Switzerland, Austria and Germany in 1998, and Cleopatre Stores in France with chain of 42 stores. Schaeffer had strategized his moves so as to acquire almost all rival firms of the company. Although it had started out as a fashion accessories group of stores meant for young teenagers, it soon moved into the domain of selling accessories for older teenagers and young women post the acquisition of Afterthoughts in 1999; Afterthoughts had been a giant chain of 768 stores. However, the company had not always divulged into expansive strategies. The acquisition of a unisex garments chain for teenagers in 2002 as well as that of a trendy gift stores chain in 1998 both had proved disastrous for the company compelling Schaefer to eventually sell them away. Operational Information The features that Claire’s Stores Inc. is endowed with are common to almost every successful chain of shops. It had strategically planned its locations so as to stay in areas frequented most by its target customers, consisting of teenagers and young women. In order to keep its costs of operation low, the company has arranged distributors and suppliers in the nearest possible locations to their stores. Such a step not only helps to reduce the cost of operation but also arranges distributions within a short span of time. In addition, the company had been exploiting its negotiating powers with vendors to keep the profit margins high and also to compensate for the low footfall during seasonal fluctuations. This is one of the reasons which made the company popular and a common name among young teenagers. Eventually this very fact emerged as the company’s intrinsic strength. Moreover, the company had standardized its strategies in alignment to the upcoming fashion trends in the industry. Management had been one of the most important of all elements under the jurisdiction of the company in compliance to its policy of tracing its strategies in line with upcoming fashion trends. In terms of money management, Claire’s could rather be rated quite highly given that it had maintained insignificant levels of debts historically and in 2006 had no debt records as such. Analysis and Evaluation Growth rate in sales The number of stores under Claire’s Inc has increased significantly during the period 1992 to 2006. In the year 1992 the number of stores was 995 and this increased to 3050 in the year 2006. This implies a rise of more than three times. This has been achieved by the company through a rapid acquisition drive pursued by
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