US: Charlotte Russe names CEO, mulls buyout bid
Struggling women's fashion retailer Charlotte Russe Holding Inc yesterday (12 November) said it will evaluate a buyout bid from one of its largest shareholders - but also released details of a new management team tasked to "reinvigorate growth and profitability" at the chain.
The appointments, which will be led by new CEO John D Goodman, formerly president and chief executive officer of Mervyn's LLC, coincided with an offer from KarpReilly Capital Partners LP and HIG Capital LLC.
They want to acquire all of the company's outstanding shares at between $9.00 and $9.50 per share - a deal which values the firm at up to $199m.
Jennifer Salopek, chairman of Charlotte Russe, said: "We will evaluate the proposal carefully in light of current economic conditions."
But she said the proposal's assertion that Charlotte Russe has no permanent management team, has now been addressed.
Charlotte Russe, which operates 487 stores, is seeking ways to stem falling sales and profits.
For the fourth quarter to 27 September it swung to a net loss of $6.65m, or $0.32 per share, from a profit of $8.43m, or $0.33 per share, a year earlier, dragged down by management costs and a store impairment charge.
Comparable store sales for the quarter fell 3.8%, but net sales rose 8.6% to $206.7m from $190.3m last time.
Len Mogil, interim chief executive officer, said earnings per share were hurt by markdowns to clear back-to-school merchandise.
For the year, profit halved to $18.17m, or $0.79 per share, from $36.30m, or $1.43 per share, the year before.
Annual net sales increased 11.1% to $823.3m from $740.9m, while same-store sales dropped 1.5%.
In its outlook for the first quarter of fiscal 2009, the company expects same-store sales to be in the negative mid to high-single digit range, and earnings per share of between $0.10 and $0.18.
This compares to a comparable store sales increase of 1.5% and diluted earnings per share of $0.55 in the first quarter of fiscal 2008.
It plans to strengthen the Charlotte Russe brand include more trend-right fashion, better inventory optimisation, smaller store sizes, and better returns on its investments - which will be driven by its new senior management team.
Among its appointments, Emilia Fabricant, formerly president and chief merchandising officer of Babystyle, has been named president and chief merchandising officer.
And Frederick G Silny, formerly senior vice president and chief financial officer of Guess? Inc, has been named executive vice president and chief financial officer.
Goodman and Fabricant will also join the Charlotte Russe board of directors, and along with Silny, will be based at the company's San Diego headquarters.
Separately, the retailer said it has signed an exclusive marketing deal with stylist Eric Daman, and named TV actress and former Miss USA, Susie Castillo, as brand ambassador.
Daman will provide insights into the latest trends and styles, advise on creative direction and assist with product design and merchandise development to help the retailer reconnect with fashion-conscious young women.
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