Disney Reclaims Disney Stores from Children's Place

Burbank, Calif. Walt Disney Co. said Thursday it has taken over the Disney Store chain in North America from Children's Place Retail Stores, and will close about 98 stores in the United States and two in Canada.

Specific financial terms weren't disclosed, but Children's Place said it will cost the company $50 million to exit the operations, at the bottom of its estimated range of $50 million to $100 million.

Walt Disney acquired about 220 Disney Stores in the United States and Canada. The deal was completed in conjunction with the bankruptcy proceedings of Children's Place subsidiaries Hoop Retail Stores and Hoop Canada, which ran the Disney Store chain. The companies filed for Chapter 11 protection in March.

Children's Place will provide transitional support services to Disney for up to six months. After the deal closes, Children's Place will continue with its bankruptcy and anticipates filing a plan of reorganization by the end of 2008.

"For The Children's Place, we can once again focus exclusively on building our core namesake brand and driving the business forward," said Chuck Crovitz, interim CEO of the children's clothing chain. "For Hoop, the transfer of the DSNA business back to Disney maximizes the return to creditors, enables a substantial portion of the chain to continue operating and is in the best interest of Hoop's suppliers, landlords, creditors and others."

Children's Place took control of the stores in 2004. Crovitz said in March that the arrangement hadn't worked out.

In announcing its exit plan March 20, Children's Place said the Disney Stores recorded an operating loss of $92.1 million for the quarter that ended Feb. 2, and a $107.3 million loss for the year.

Disney says company veteran James D. Fielding will become president of Disney Stores Worldwide, overseeing North American operations and the 107 Disney Stores in Europe.

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