CLAIRE'S DEBUTS IN EUROPE, ACQUIRES BOW BANGLES

NEW YORK--Taking the plunge into Europe, Claire's Stores Inc. has acquired the bankrupt Bow Bangles PLC, another accessories chain based in Birmingham, England, for an undisclosed amount of cash. The 50 Bow Bangles stores operate in England, Scotland and Wales.
Rowland Schaefer, chairman and chief executive officer of Claire's, said Tuesday that Mark Smith, founder and managing director of Bow Bangles, has been named president and ceo of Claire's Accessories Ltd., a new subsidiary that made the acquisition.
Schaeffer said, "We view the acquisition of Bow Bangles' assets and locations as an important first step in our expansion into the United Kingdom and the European continent."
Bow Bangles filed for bankruptcy protection last month and closed about 20 stores.
Claire's has been on the acquisition trail. Last month, it announced plans to buy 85 stores formerly operated by The Icing Inc., another accessories chain that went out of business. Claire's noted that it will have 55 to 60 of those stores operating by May 1.
Claire's, based in Pembroke Pines, Fla., currently operates 1,325 women's accessories stores in 49 states, the Caribbean, Canada and Japan. The addition of the Icing and Bow Bangles stores will bring the total number of stores to about 1,460.

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