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New York City, FAO Schwarz announced Tuesday that it is buying Best & Co., a 128-year-old children’s luxury clothing brand, for an undisclosed amount. The acquisition marks a major step for FAO Schwarz, which emerged from bankruptcy in 2003 under new owner D.E. Shaw Group.
“FAO Schwarz plans to expand the Best & Co. brand through selective wholesale and international distribution,” said Ed Schmults, CEO of FAO, in a statement.
During its bankruptcy, FAO Schwartz shuttered its entire retail chain. D.E. Shaw reopened just two locations in 2004, including the renovated flagship at Fifth Avenue and East 59th Street in Manhattan. FAO also operates a Web store and catalogue business.
Best & Co. was founded by Albert Best in 1879, and is experiencing a resurrection directed by designer Susie Hilfiger, the ex-wife of Tommy Hilfiger. At one time, the company operated a chain of stores along the East Coast, including a Fifth Avenue flagship, but it closed in 1971. A quarter-century later, Ms. Hilfiger revived the Best & Co. name by purchasing an existing children’s boutique in Greenwich, Conn., and renaming it Best & Co. She will stay on with FAO as creative director of the apparel brand.
Today, Best & Co. operates the Greenwich store, a small shop in Manhattan’s Bergdorf Goodman department store, an online store and a catalog business. FAO plans to sell its private label toys in all of Best & Co.’s channels, except for the Bergdorf Goodman location because of its close proximity to FAO’s Fifth Avenue store.