By  on May 30, 2007

Claire's Stores Inc., the 3,000-unit costume jewelry chain, on Tuesday named Eugene S. Kahn chief executive officer, confirming a WWD report last week.

Claire's also said that its merger with an affiliate of Apollo Management LP was completed. Last March, Apollo agreed to buy Claire's Stores for $3.1 billion.

Apollo has a history of investing in retail. The private investment firm's current portfolio includes Linens-N-Things and past retail investments included General Nutrition Centers, Zale Corp., AMC Entertainment Inc., Ralphs Grocery Co., Dominick's Supermarkets Inc., Rent-A-Center Inc. and Proffitt's Department Stores.

Kahn succeeds Marla Schaefer and Bonnie Schaefer, the daughters of Claire's founder Roland Schaefer.

"I am excited about teaming with Apollo and look forward to leading Claire's, a company with a strong heritage, a dominant market position and an experienced management team," Kahn said in a statement. "The company has an excellent record built on strong merchandising and presentation strategies."

Claire's, a vertical retailer with primarily a teen and pre-teen audience, operates in several countries. Based in Pembroke Pines, Fla., the company last year posted volume of about $1.5 billion.

Kahn had been laying low for over two years, since he was chairman and ceo of the former May Department Stores Co. A 30-year veteran of retailing, he was a star merchant at R.H. Macy as well as May Co., where he rose to ceo and president in 1998 and added the chairman's title in 2001. But he had big shoes to fill, succeeding the legendary David Farrell, who built May into a powerful operator of regional department store chains. During much of Kahn's command, the business struggled, and shortly after he left the business, it was taken over by Federated Department Stores Inc.

This time, Kahn will be at the helm of a company with wide international recognition, but recently slowing sales.

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