CLAIRE’S JAPANESE ADVENTURE: Claire’s Stores, an American accessories retailer, and Jusco Co. Ltd., a Tokyo supercenter operator, have launched Claire’s Nipon Co. Ltd., a joint venture aimed at opening Claire’s Boutiques in Japan.

The first unit is expected to open in November, with 10 slated for the first year. Sales of $400,000 to $500,000 are projected for each store. Claire’s said up to 500 shops in Japan are possible within five to 10 years.

Retail prices range from $2 to $20 in the U.S., but in Japan they will be about 30 percent higher, reflecting tariffs and other costs. The initial investment in the venture is $1 million, split equally by the partners. Each shop will be roughly 540 to 700 square feet.

Claire’s, of Pembrooke Pines, Fla., operates 1,124 stores in the U.S., Canada and the Caribbean under the names Claire’s Boutiques, Topkapi and Dara Michelle. It had sales of $281 million last year and projected $310 million to $320 million for 1994.

Jusco operates 177 supercenter grocery stores and had sales of more than $17 billion last year. It is part of the Aeon group, an international organization comprising 158 retail and service companies. It has already brought such names as Talbots, The Body Shop and Laura Ashley to Japan.

SEARS NAMES METZGER: Sears, Roebuck & Co. has named Norine Metzger divisional merchandise manager of women’s sportswear separates.

The position has been vacant since March when Liz Williams was promoted to divisional vice president of sportswear, petites and large sizes, as reported. Metzger reports to Williams.

Metzger joins Sears from Meier & Frank, Portland, Ore., where she was divisioinal merchandise manager of junior sportswear and dresses, since 1988. Before that she was a senior buyer at Limited Express and Sizes Unlimited.

HEAD FOR THE HILLS: Hills Stores Co., Canton, Mass., plans to open two full-line discount stores in the Richmond, Va., area this fall.

A 102,000-square-foot store will open in Parham Plaza on Parham Road, and a 100,000-square-foot store will open in a strip center on Midlothian Turnpike. These are Hills’s first stores in the greater Richmond area, but the company has five other units in Virginia.

MEYER MOVES UP: Fred Meyer Inc., Portland, Ore., reported first-quarter earnings rose 17.8 percent to $28.9 million from $24.5 million a year earlier, although apparel sales were flat.

In the quarter ended May 21, net income was $16 million, or 56 cents a share.

A year ago, a $2.6 million accounting charge reduced net income to $11.4 million, or 41 cents.
Sales rose 9.4 percent to $932.3 million from $852.1 million, and comparable-store sales were up 3.4 percent.

The company plans to open five new stores and remodel seven units this year.


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