NEW YORK — Rowland Schaefer, the 85-year-old chairman and chief executive of Claire’s Stores, has taken a leave of absence from active duty at the stores following a mild stroke that caused “minimal impairment.”
Schaefer’s daughters Marla Schaefer, 53, and Bonnie Schaefer, 49, co-vice chairwomen, will assume their father’s responsibilities during his absence. The elder Schaefer, who founded Claire’s in 1973, is expected to resume his responsibilities in about six months.
Claire’s said that a succession plan had been under development for about two years. Herbert Mines Associates previously had been retained to identify candidates for the post of chief operating officer.
Word of the change came on Thursday as Claire’s reported a fivefold increase in third-quarter earnings. The Pembroke Pines, Fla.-based accessories chain said net income for the three months ended Nov. 2 reached $12.4 million, or 25 cents, versus profits of $2.4 million, or 5 cents, in last year’s quarter. The performance beat analysts’ consensus estimates by 4 cents.
Sales rose 12.7 percent to $230 million from $204.1 million and same-store sales surged ahead 8 percent.
Saying Claire’s business model enabled it to navigate through the challenging environment, Rowland Schaefer said in a statement: “Our testing, ordering and replenishment strategy continues to provide us with the ability to maximize opportunities this season.”
Optimistic about the holiday season, the firm raised its fourth-quarter earnings outlook to $37 million from last year’s mark of $29.8 million, with comps increasing 4 percent and revenues increasing 9 percent to $305 million from $280 million last year.
Claire’s comps rose 5 percent in August, 11 percent in September and 9 percent in October.
Claire’s said it is also comfortable with estimates of earnings from continuing operations of $1.48 a share for the full fiscal year, compared with 84 cents last year.