Claire’s Stores Inc. got some much-needed breathing room, at least through the holiday selling period.
The tween jewelry chain worked out an arrangement with its lender, HSBC Bank Plc, to revise its European credit facility. That arrangement allows Claire’s to complete a bond swap to help ease its interest payments as well as pay the $77 million interest payment that was due on Sept. 15. The new revised facility also gives the retailer some funding for operations through the end of the year.
The retailer is in a sector that has been troubled for some time. Many apparel retailers that target tweens and teens have filed for bankruptcy court protection, most recently Aéropostale Inc. Pacific Sunwear of California Inc. and The Wet Seal are other chains that filed. Aéropostale was acquired by a consortium led by Authentic Brands Group, while Pacific Sunwear was acquired by private-equity firm Golden Gate Capital and The Wet Seal was acquired by Versa Capital. Deb Shops, which filed in December 2014, and is closer to the tween market, shuttered its operations in March 2015.
While the revised agreement gives Claire’s time to try to effect a turnaround, there’s a chance it might run up against the same problem come Dec. 31, 2016, when the credit facility requires a paydown.
While the changing shopping patterns of Claire’s demographic hasn’t helped the chain, its financial problems have also been due to the debt it took on following the leveraged buyout in 2007 by Apollo Management.
Earlier this month, the company widened its second-quarter loss to $32.1 million for the period ended July 30, compared with a loss in the year-ago quarter of $18.9 million. Sales for the period fell 8.8 percent to $317.2 million from $347.6 million. The company’s store count for company-operated stores was 1,699 North American stores and 1,102 European stores. It also has 596 franchise-operated stores plus another 806 concession stores. Its stores are under the nameplates Claire’s and Icing.