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.
@tradesy is turning the concept of a showroom upside down with its new space in Santa Monica. Here, the company plans to hold events, art exhibits and a showcase rare fashion pieces like this Louis Vuitton boxing set. Get all the details on Tradesy’s first showroom on WWD.com. #wwdnews
Spotted last night at the @erdem x @hm launch event: Kate Bosworth, Rashida Jones, Kirsten Dunst and Selma Blair. The party, which took place in LA, also marked the opening of their pop-up shop. “I was interested in creating a collection that wasn’t in any way disposable. It was about pieces you’d create and keep forever, things that have a permanence to it,” designer Erdem Moralioglu said. #wwdeye (📷: Katie Jones)
Renee Zellweger in yellow in 2001 and again in 2017. Chosen as one of the 12 @pantone Leading Spring Colors (and dubbed “Meadowlark”), it only makes sense that the bright hue stands the test of time and is making a resurgence this season, seen already on stars like @blakelively and @gigihadid. (📷: Donato Sardello & @rexfeatures) #wwdfashion #tbt
Dior’s 70th anniversary celebration continues with a new exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. “Christian Dior,” which is scheduled to run through March 18, takes a look at the founders tenure from 1947 to 1057 and feature 40 designs. Pictured here is an evening gown from the Ailée, fall 1948-49 haute couture collection. #wwdfashion (📷: Brian Boyle)
As one of the most recognizable models in the world, Christy Turlington Burns has an insider’s view of the fashion industry and the allegations of sexual harassment swirling around it. “I can say that harassment and mistreatment have always been widely known and tolerated in the industry. The industry is surrounded by predators who thrive on the constant rejection and loneliness so many of us have experiences at some point in our careers,” Turlington told WWD, along with her suggestions for how the modeling world should protect younger women and men. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: Tony Palmieri) #wwdnews
@asics America has tapped a new brand ambassador: famed DJ/record producer @steveaoki. This initiative is intended to set the tone for the new brand identity and philosophy and will include partnerships with influencers and in-store and off-line activations that will continue into next year. This is Asics’ most significant marketing effort in two decades, and is expected to attract younger consumers to the brand. #wwdfashion
24-year-old Jean Prounis is redefining the rules of jewelry. Formerly a studio assistant to Jemima Kirke and a design apprentice at Ghuran, she focuses on handcrafted subtleties and ancient goldsmithing techniques. “There was a really sterile feel in the environment and I wanted to have jewelry with character that shapes how you wear it everyday,” Prounis said. Each piece is hand made in New York, either by Prounis or three other jewelers in the district. #wwdfashion
“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