Both consumer confidence and retail employment, particularly among general merchandise retailers including discounters and department stores, saw pick-ups last month. That, coupled with the Dow Jones Industrial Average hitting new highs, suggests that at the very least the U.S. economic backdrop isn’t getting any worse. No one believes that the economic problems in Europe have been resolved, or that there won’t be some sort of impact in the U.S. in certain geographic pockets due to the sequester.
Claire’s Inc., the teen accessories retailer acquired in 2007 for $3.1 billion by private equity firm Apollo Management, on Friday filed to raise $100 million in an initial public offering. The filing said proceeds will be used to repay debt. Claire’s operates 3,477 stores across North America, Europe and China under the nameplates Claire’s and Icing. Annual volume is about $1.56 billion. The buyout saddled the once debt-free company with $2.4 billion in long-term debt. In the filing, the company said $522 million comes due in 2015. The firm in March issued $210 million in debt to pay down a portion of those notes.
It wasn’t immediately clear how many shares Claire’s planned to sell. Typically the amount in the filing is used as a placeholder to calculate registration fees.
Already’s there’s talk of other private equity firms eyeing initial public offerings as exit strategies for their investments. Neiman Marcus Inc., owned by TPG and Warburg Pincus, and Burlington Coat Factory, owned by Bain, are two names that surfaced as possible candidates in recent weeks.
Strategics such as Coty Inc., which tried last year to go public, also are said to be eyeing another attempt at the public markets.
A stabilized economy also seems to have some firms eyeing investors, possibly from the mergers and acquisitions front, to help fuel expansion plans.
Last week at the Next Great Consumer Brands Conference copresented by Consensus Advisors and The Nasdaq OMX Group, there were 15 firms pitching to prospective investors and lenders. Among those firms were streetwear e-tailer Karmaloop, which targets the verge consumer, and menswear brand J. Hilburn.
Fashion retailer Kitson is also exploring investment options to further its growth here and overseas. Christopher Lee, Kitson’s chief executive officer, told attendees the company’s goal is to “go public or be taken by a public firm.”
In the case of Neiman Marcus Inc., TPG and Warburg are believed to be pursuing a dual-track agenda, eyeing the public markets as it explores acquisition interest to determine which option could give more bang for the buck in terms of investment returns.
The Deal reported that Houston-based Charming Charlie Inc., majority owned by private equity firm Hancock Park Associates, has shopped the company to possible buyers.
There’s also been increased activity in the venture capital front.
VC flow in the first quarter in fashion and retail firms hit at least $150 million in follow-up investments, mostly to help those firms get to the point where venture capitalists can plan their exit strategies. As for the second quarter, there’s continued VC investment with many investors committing additional capital moving from seed to early stage and beyond.
Equity crowdfunding platform CircleUp completed a $7.5 million Series A round led by Union Square. Also investing in the round is Google Ventures, as well as existing seed investor Maveron.
Merchantry, an online marketplace technology provider, raised $7 million in a Series B round. Investors include Kite Ventures and Greycroft Partners. The latest investment is in addition to the $10 million Series A funding that includes as an investor Marvin Traub Associates.
RetailNext Inc., a technology platform providing “big data” using e-commerce-style shopper analytics to brick-and-mortar stores, completed a $15 million Series C round led by new investor StarVest Partners. Existing investors, such as August Capital, participated in the C round as well.
“These collections continue to build on that vision, empowering differently abled adults to express themselves through fashion,” said @tommyhilfiger of his line of adaptive apparel, which launches today. The line consists of 37 men’s and 34 women’s styles based upon the pieces from the spring Tommy Hilfiger sportswear collection. #wwdnews
“Stranger Things” is getting a new cast member for season 2. Meet @sadiesink_, the 15-year-old who will be joining the Netflix series for its new season. You may recognize her from “The Glass Castle” with Brie Larson and Woody Harrelson, but the Texas native’s next role goes in an entirely different direction. She describes her character, Max, as “a rough and tumble skater girl [who] becomes friends with the boys at school.” The second season debuts on October 27. (📷: @jgreenery) #wwdeye
Amid the Harvey Weinstein controversy, there’s another sector that’s being put under the spotlight for sexual abuse: the modeling industry. While rumors about abuse and sexual harassment of female and male models — and the photographers, agents and others who perpetrated it — have circulated within the fashion world for years, model @cameronrussell started posting stories from models on Instagram last week about abusive situations they’ve encountered — from sexual harassment and molestation to attempted rape. Over 75 have weighed in so far. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdnews
To celebrate its 16th anniversary, @dylanscandybar tapped designers and celebrities to create mosaics out of candy. The mosaics will be auctioned off to support the philanthropic cause of each participant’s choice. Pictured here is the mural created by @aliceandolivia's Stacey Bendet. For a first look at some of the other artwork being unveiled tonight, go to WWD.com. #wwdeye
The annual Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic in Pacific Palisades this weekend drew Kate Hudson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Laura Dern and more. See pictures of the star-studded event on WWD.com. (📷: @chelsealaurenla) #wwdeye
In his new book “Hollywood Royale,” Andy Warhol’s Protégé Matthew Rolston celebrates the Eighties revival of Hollywood glamour. Featuring more than 100 portraits taken by Rolston from 1977 to 1993, the book contains photos of icons like Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and @drewbarrymore, pictured here in 1991. “Hollywood Royale,” out today, will be accompanied by an exhibition opening at Los Angeles’ Fahey/Klein Gallery on March 1. #wwdeye
"Nowadays when life is not so happy with everything going on in the world, I think people come to me for a little bit of whimsy and color and fun." - Designer Rebecca De Ravenel on her cult-favorite jewelry line. (📸 : @vsteves) #wwd40
“Everyone is talking about how the retail industry is struggling, but I think it’s an incredible time because brands who are doing something different and innovative are setting themselves up for the future,” said @adamgoldston, who founded the luxury athletic brand @apl with his brother @ryangoldsten. The Goldston’s are part of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables. See the rest of the list on WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
@eyeswoon blogger Athena Calderone debuted her first-ever cookbook, “Cook Beautiful,” which is heavily centered on the presentation and visual expression of food. Pictured here are her miso glazed carrots from the book. Get the recipe on WWD.com. (📷: @johnny_miller_) #wwdeye