OPERATIONS

Brooks Bros. and Reliance form JV to enter India

BY Katherine Boccaccio

New York — Brooks Bros. Group and Reliance Brands Limited announced Tuesday the formation of a joint venture company in India.

Reliance Brands, a division of Reliance Industries Group, will use its local connections to bring the American brand to India.

"We have partnered with Reliance Brands Ltd. because of their passion for the Brooks Bros. brand, their track record with other premium brands, and their expertise and connections within India. We are incredibly fortunate to have them as a partner as we enter this important retail market,” said Claudio Del Vecchio, chairman and CEO, Brooks Bros.

Currently, Brooks Bros. merchandise is available at 210 locations in the United States and 200 in other countries, including Korea, Japan, China, Taiwan, Singapore, France, the United Kingdom, Chile, Canada, Italy, Mexico, and Greece. The company said that India is the natural next stop in its global expansion plans.

Through the joint venture, Brooks Bros.’ products will be available in major cities across India through exclusive mono-brand stores, which will carry the entire range of menswear and women’s wear including clothing, sportswear, and accessories.

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FINANCE

Christopher & Banks loss widens in Q1

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Minneapolis — Christopher & Banks Corp. reported Tuesday a loss of $13.4 million, compared with a loss of $8.2 million in the year-ago period.

Net sales dropped to $93.6 million, from $110.4 million in the comparable period last year. Same-store sales decreased 15%.

“Our financial results reflect continued customer resistance to the residual merchandise assortment that consisted of styles that were too updated and priced too high while lacking in key categories,” said Joel Waller, president and CEO.

As part of the company’s real estate restructuring efforts, 103 stores were identified for closure and 101 of these stores were closed as of April 28, 2012. The company closed 16 additional stores in the first quarter.

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FINANCE

Private equity firm buys majority stake in Party City in $2.7 billion deal

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — The Boston-based private equity firm Thomas H. Lee Partners has agreed to acquire a majority stake in Party City Holdings Inc., Rockaway, N.J., in a deal valued at $2.69 billion.

“Party City leads the $10 billion retail party goods industry in terms of product selection and retail network," said Todd Abbrecht, a managing director at Thomas H. Lee Partners, in a statement. "We look forward to working closely with the team at Party City to maximize its scale and vertically integrated business model to continue to grow its business.”

Party City’s current owners Berkshire Partners and Weston Presidio, will hold minority stakes following the transaction, along with current management and investors Advent International.

Party City had revenues of $1.8 billion in 2011. The company operates approximately 1,200 stores in the United States and Canada, and distributes party supplies to more than 40,000 retail outlets worldwide, as well as through its e-commerce website.

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