Claire’s names new CEO after weak Q4

Beatrice Lafon was named CEO at specialty retailer Claire’s Stores following the release of fourth quarter results and a steep slide in same store sales.

The operator of 3,535 stores focused on fashion jewelry and accessories for young women, teens, tweens, and kids said same store sales in North America declined 12% for its fourth quarter ended February 1. Total sales for the 13 week period declined 11.7% to $435.5 million when compared to the 14 week period the prior year. Excluding the additional week of sales in the fiscal 2012 fourth quarter, the company said its net sales would have decreased 7.3%. Operating profits on an adjusted basis fell to $93.3 million from $129.6 million during the prior year’s 14 week fourth quarter.

In conjunction with the result, Claire’s announced that Beatrice Lafon, the company’s current European president, would replace current CEO James Fielding.

"We thank Jim for his contributions as CEO of Claire's over the past two years. Under Jim's leadership, the company has made important strides in merchandising and extending our e-commerce platform to Icing (stores), Canada and Europe,” said Peter Copses, chairman of the Claire’s board. “We wish Jim well in all his future endeavors. In Beatrice, we have a strong leader with deep retail experience. She has an intimate understanding of our business, and a track record of driving sales in existing locations and successfully opening new stores.”

Lafon spent the past three years leading the company’s European business which ended last year with 1,185 stores compared to 1,912 stores in North America.

“As President of Claire's Europe over the last three years, I have operated a multinational business across 15 countries in a challenging macro-economic environment,” Lafon said. “As CEO, I look forward to creating value by leveraging best practices, by maximizing the unique talents of both our North American and European teams as well as by harnessing the strength of our sourcing teams based in Asia.”