Claire's names new CEO

Chicago -- Claire's Stores on Tuesday said its CEO, James D. Fielding, has resigned. He will be replaced by Beatrice Lafon, currently president of Claire’s Europe, effective April 2. The specialty retailer also posted a lower profit for the fourth quarter amid a drop in sales.

Fielding joined Claire's from The Walt Disney Co. in June 2012.

"We thank Jim for his contributions as CEO of Claire's over the past two years. Under Jim's leadership, the company has made important strides in merchandising and extending our e-commerce platform to Icing (stores), Canada and Europe,” said Peter Copses, chairman of the Claire’s board. “We wish Jim well in all his future endeavors. In Beatrice, we have a strong leader with deep retail experience. She has an intimate understanding of our business, and a track record of driving sales in existing locations and successfully opening new stores.”

For the quarter ended Feb. 1, Claire’s reported a profit of $7.4 million, down from a profit of $42.2 million a year earlier. Total sales for the 13 week period fell 11.7% to $435.5 million, when compared to the 14 week period in the prior year. Same-store sales in North America fell 12%; Europe same-store sales decreased 8.5%.

Claire's also announced that it is the process of closing its 17 company-operated stores in China and Shanghai office. It is considering reintroducing the brand to China using a franchise model.

In a statement, Lafon said she was very grateful for the opportunity to lead Claire's as CEO.

“As president of Claire's Europe over the last three years, I have operated a multinational business across 15 countries in a challenging macro-economic environment,” Lafon said. “As CEO, I look forward to creating value by leveraging best practices, by maximizing the unique talents of both our North American and European teams as well as by harnessing the strength of our sourcing teams based in Asia.”

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