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Forever 21 in big rollout of sister banner

BY By Marianne Wilson

Forever 21 announced a major expansion of its F21 Red division.

The fast-fashion retailer plans to open more than 40 F21 stores across the United States in 2017. The first three are scheduled to open in April, in San Antonio, Texas; Bronx, New York, and Chicago.

New locations will continue to open throughout the year in key cities, bringing the brand’s total store count to more than seventy locations by year-end.

Forever 21 launched F21 Red in 2014 as a value-oriented concept for the entire family, featuring an assortment of fashion staples from Forever 21 and its sub-brands, with entry-level price points including $7.90 denim, $5.90 tank tops, $3.90 t-shirts, and $1.90 camisoles.

"We are excited to announce that we will be growing F21 RED's presence in 2017," said Linda Chang, VP of merchandising at Forever 21. "F21 RED expansion represents an important and exciting opportunity for our growth plan, and will allow us to bring a wide variety of product at competitive prices to new regional areas for our increasing customer base."

Forever 21 operates more than 815 stores in 57 countries.

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Stage Stores closes Gordmans deal

BY By Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Stage Stores is officially adding Gordmans stores to its portfolio.

Stage Stores closed on its previously announced acquisition of selected assets of Gordmans Stores, the Omaha, Nebraska-based department store chain that filed for Chapter 11 on March 13.

Through the deal, Stage Stores gained a minimum of 50 Gordmans store leases, with rights to assume leases for an additional seven stores and a distribution center; all of Gordmans’ inventory, furniture, fixtures, equipment and other assets at the 57 store locations; as well as trademarks and other intellectual property of Gordmans.

Stage expects to pay $35 million to $40 million for the inventory, and an additional $2 million to $3 million for the other assets. The final amount will be determined following the completion of a post-closing physical inventory count, the retailer reported.

Stage intends to use existing cash and availability under its credit facility to fund both the transaction and any additional investments required to support the integration into the Stage infrastructure.

The chain has planned a reduction in the sales of the Gordmans division this year due to lower inventory levels as it rebuilds the business in time for the holiday season. For the remainder of fiscal 2017, the acquisition is expected to contribute between $230 million and $245 million in revenue and be neutral to earnings, exclusive of acquisition costs.

Looking ahead, Stage anticipates the addition of the Gordmans stores to be significantly accretive to earnings in fiscal 2018.

“We believe this acquisition strengthens our entire portfolio and will enable us to drive improved performance, resulting in greater shareholder value through positive earnings and cash flow,” said Michael Glazer, president and CEO of Stage Stores.

“Gordmans is well-positioned in Midwestern markets with a strong brand, a loyal customer base, and a significant opportunity to benefit from growth in the off-price segment,” he said. “We look forward to serving Gordmans’ customers by bringing them great values and providing an engaging shopping experience. We see the opportunity for both Stage and Gordmans to benefit from sharing best practices given the complementary strengths of each of the business models.”

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Luggage e-retailer purchased by iconic travel brand

BY By Deena M. Amato-McCoy

eBags is about to embark on a new journey.

The online luggage retailer is being acquired by Samsonite International. The deal, which is valued at $105 million, is part of Samsonite’s ongoing strategy to accelerate the growth of its direct-to-consumer, e-commerce business, and strengthen its existing digital capabilities, the company reported.

eBags, which will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Samsonite, will keep its name, remain in Greenwood Village, Colorado, and CEO Mike Edwards will continue to be the head of the company, according to the Denver Post.

The transaction is expected to close in the second quarter of 2017.

eBags, which was founded in 1998, has created a niche online selling travel bags and accessories. In addition to selling merchandise under the eBags brand, it also carries luggage from leading travel and fashion brands — including Samsonite.

“This is an exciting day for eBags and we are thrilled to be joining the Samsonite family. Their considerable experience and well-established presence in the travel luggage industry, together with our digital capabilities and passion for travel, are a perfect match,” said eBags’ Edwards. “We look forward to forging a strong partnership, and to ensuring that our customers are given the best service and a diverse and compelling product offering.”

eBags reported net sales of $158.51 million for the fiscal year ended December 25, 2016, an increase of 23.5% from $128.3 million during the fiscal year ended December 27, 2015.

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