STORE SPACES

Gymboree to close Crazy 8 stores and cut back namesake stores; names CEO

BY Marianne Wilson

Just 14 months after it emerged from bankruptcy, Gymboree Group announced a “strategic review” and a major downsizing of its store fleet. It also named a new chief executive.

The children’s clothing retailer said it has initiated a comprehensive review of strategic options which could include a sale or other transactions for its Gymboree, Janie and Jack and Crazy 8 brands. The company also said it plans to close its value-oriented Crazy 8 stores and “significantly” reduce the number of Gymboree store locations in 2019.

Gymboree filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in June 2017, and emerged later that year, in September, with about 350 less stores (giving it a total of about 380 locations) and new owners. It also cut its debt by some $1 billion.

In its statement announcing the restructuring, the company also revealed that, on November 18, Shaz Kahng, a member of the board since September 2017, was appointed CEO of Gymboree Group. She brings 30 years of retail leadership experience, and was instrumental in leading turnarounds of Lucy Activewear and various Nike business segments, according to Gymboree.

“The process we announced today is designed to reposition the company for success by establishing a brand portfolio and store footprint that is optimized for the current retail environment,” said Shaz Kahng, Gymboree Group CEO. ‘These strategic initiatives are an important next step as we continue to look for ways to unlock additional value in our brands. We are optimistic about our future as a more streamlined organization that can deliver enhanced, long-term value to its stakeholders.”

The retailer has been under heavy competition from Target and Walmart, both of whom have expanded their kids’ clothing offerings, and a reenergized The Children’s Place. In July, Gymboree announced it was rebooting its brand with new in-store and digital experiences. The re-boot also included a merchandise update.

Gymboree said that all its stores, including Crazy 8 stores will be open and fully stocked throughout the holiday season.

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