CLAIRE’S BUYING LUX, PLANS CHAIN GROWTH

Byline: Kristi Ellis

LOS ANGELES — The upcoming acquisition of Lux Corp. by Claire’s Stores is expected to bring a growth spurt for Mr. Rags, a retail chain catering to teenagers.
Mr. Rags, which is operated by Lux, now has 54 stores. Two more are expected to open before the end of this year, and another 13 are planned for 1998. Lux is based in Renton, Wash.
“We will be a totally separate division, and the merger will allow us to run our own stores nationwide,” said Michael DeGross, head merchandiser of Mr. Rags.
Claire’s is based in Pembroke Pines, Fla. It operates 1,700 accessories stores in the U.S., Canada, the Caribbean, Japan and the U.K. The firm announced Oct. 21 it had signed a letter of intent to acquire Lux, and the $46 million deal is expected to close before the fourth quarter ends.
Targeting the junior, unisex and young men’s casual market, Mr. Rags started in the Seattle area in 1984 with three stores. It specializes in teen unisex clothing and accessories in 11 Western states. The stores carry a wide range of apparel, from conservative to trendy, as well as such hard goods as skateboards, snowboards and in-line skates.
Last year, the company hired NBBJ Retail Concepts in Seattle to remodel its flagship in Bellevue Square in Bellevue, Wash. The result was a 2,000-square-foot prototype that DeGross said is enjoying a 70 percent increase in sales.
Propelled by its success, Mr. Rags opened 20 more stores this year with a concept that seems to appeal to a young, hip customer. Store design now incorporates graffiti, flattened 55-gallon drums and hot rolled steel and exposed wire grids, along with mechanical fixtures and bare light bulbs hanging from the ceiling.
DeGross said stores average $700 to $1,000 per square foot in sales.
For the fiscal year ended Nov. 30, 1996, Lux had net sales of approximately $25 million, and for the nine months ended Aug. 31, 1997, the company’s sales exceeded $27 million.
In 1998, Lux will open stores in the Stonestown Galleria, San Francisco; Northridge Center, Northridge, Calif.; Woodfield Mall, Schaumburg, Ill.; Stone Ridge Mall, Pleasanton, Calif.; Santa Anita Plaza, Santa Anita, Calif.; South Hill Mall, Puyallup, Wash.; Hawthorne Center, Vernon Hills, Ill.; West Covina Plaza, West Covina, Calif.; Chicago Ridge Mall, Chicago; Fox Valley Shopping Center, Aurora, Ill.; Hilltop Mall, Richmond, Calif.; Orland Square, Orland Park, Ill., and Denver Pavilions, Denver.

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