Claire’s Seeks New Loans Amid Continuous Financial Slide

Hoffman Estates, Ill.–Claire’s Stores Inc., the shopping mall fixture, mass-market fashion jewelry retailer, has announced that it wants to refinance its debt, some of which is due as early as next year, in a bid to buy time to turn around its struggling business.

Claire’s wants to exchange almost $800 million of securities due 2017, 2019 and 2020 for up to $230 million of new loans at an interest rate of 9 percent, it said in a news release. The new loans would mature in 2021.

Bondholders have until Sept. 10 to accept the exchange offer.

The news comes in the wake of the announcement that CFO J. Per Brodin will resign Sept. 2.

In May, Claire’s reported a 5 percent decrease in same-store sales and a 6 percent decrease in total sales in the first quarter, which has been consistent with the sales slide that has steamrolled the retailer since 2007, the same year it incurred $2.3 billion in debt from a leveraged buyout by Apollo Global Management.

In June, Bloomberg reported that Apollo was buying Claire’s bonds due in 2017, as the retailer faces approximately $370 million in debt maturity next year. Bloomberg predicted refinancing late last year.

Claire’s has credited a weak dollar, store closures, a decrease in same-store sales and a decrease in shipments to franchises as the reasons behind the latest financial results.

Poor mall traffic has been a challenge for retailers across industries in recent years as shopping increasingly moves to the internet and competition increases. Candace Corlett, president of WSL Strategic Retail, told Bloomberg in December that children’s tastes are also evolving as they prioritize experience-related purchases.

Corlett said, “Kids’ spending money is going to their electronics, buying their music, eating out with their friends.”

In 2014, Claire’s began shifting its focus from traditional brick-and-mortar locations to store-within-a-stores in locations like Toys “R” Us.

As of press time, Claire’s could not be reached for comment.

Claire’s describes itself as a fashion jewelry and accessory retailers catering to girls and women between ages 3 and 35. As of April this year, it had 2,831 retail locations in 17 countries, plus 579 franchise locations in 29 countries.

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