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Claire's Stores, Inc.
Industry Retail
Founded 1961
Headquarters Hoffman Estates, Illinois
Number of locations 3,469 stores
Area served Worldwide
Key people Beatrice Lafon (CEO)[1]
Products Accessories, jewelry, and cosmetics
Revenue US$ 1.41 Billion (2008)[2]
Operating income -US$ 446 Million (2008)[2]
Net income -US$ 644 Million (2008)[2]
Owner(s) Apollo Management
Employees 17,600 (January 2009)

Claire's is a retailer of accessories and jewelry to girls and young women, founded in 1961, and based in Hoffman Estates, Illinois, suburb of Chicago.[3]

As of October 27, 2012, Claire's has 3,469 stores in 36 countries: 1,947 in North America (United States & Canada), 1,141 in Europe (United Kingdom, France, Switzerland, Spain, Ireland, Austria, Germany, Netherlands, Portugal, Belgium, Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary and Italy), and 381 franchised and licensed stores elsewhere in the world (Japan, Middle East, India, Mexico, Turkey, Ukraine, Greece, Malta, Guatemala, El Salvador, Panama, Venezuela, and Dominican Republic)[4]

Their stores are in 95% of all U.S. shopping malls, and Claire's has done more ear piercings than any other retailer, over 80 million in 25+ years.[5]

In 1996, Leslie Mann of the Chicago Tribune said that "Although the management of Claire's says the company doesn't advertise and is deliberately low-profile, the name "Claire" is as familiar to female Baby Boomers as "Ringo". To the Boomers' mall-cruising daughters—and, more and more, to their sons—it's right up there with singer Puff Daddy."[6]


1961: Founded as Fashion Tress Industries by Rowland Schaefer. FTI focused on wigs, and became the world's largest retailer of fashion wigs.[7]

1973: FTI merged with Claire's, a 25-store jewelry chain. The new firm was named Claire's Stores, Inc.[7]

1989: Bought Topkapi, a Japanese chain with 16 stores[7]

1995: Bought Bow Bangles, a British chain with 71 stores in England, Wales, and Scotland.[8]

1996: Bought The Icing, an American chain with 85 stores. This would become the company's primary brand for women in their 20s.[7]

1996: Bought Accessory Place, an American chain with 31 stores.[7]

1998: Bought Bijoux One, a Swiss chain.[9]

1999: Bought Cleopatre, a privately owned chain based in Paris with 42 stores, for $11 million in cash.[10]

1999: Bought Afterthoughts, which were converted to Icing stores[11]

2007: Taken private by private equity firm Apollo Global Management in a $3.1 billion leveraged buyout[12]


Claire's has 6 offices:[3]

Illinois office[edit]

Previously a facility in Wood Dale, Illinois served the purposes now held by the Hoffman Estates office.[6][13] In early January 1995 Pfizer sold its Hoffman Estates headquarters building for $7.4 million to Claire's so it could consolidate its operations in Memphis, Tennessee. At the time the Hoffman Estates office had 247,000 square feet (22,900 m2) of space.[13] In 1998 Claire's announced plans to build a two-story office building and a 275,000-square-foot (25,500 m2) warehouse at the Hoffman Estates site. This would double the total amount of space at the Illinois site.[14]

Store types[edit]

A mall-based Claire's store in Alpena, Michigan
Claire's branch in Boulevard Saint Michel, Paris, France
Glendale, Queens, New York

There are two types of Claire's Boutique stores. One is a multi-million dollar store. Multi-million dollar stores accumulate one million dollars or more in a year. Some of these stores are located at Kenwood Mall in Cincinnati, OH, Monroe Crossing in Monroe, NC, Ashville Mall in Asheville,NC, and Westminster Mall in Westminster, CA. "[15][16] Claire's Stores operates under two brands:

The majority of stores are of the Claire's store concept, and it is the only concept that operates outside North America. These stores are aimed principally at teens and tweens, and have a kid's section. They average about 1,000 sq. feet, are typically located in malls, and carry the widest selection of merchandise among Claire's brands. Claire's merchandise is targeted at different age groups ranging from babies to young adults. Customers can find earrings, necklaces, bracelets, purses, hair accessories, and fashion accessories. Claire's stores are merchandised to accommodate these different ages, and fashion trends are manipulated to appeal to all ages.

The second brand is Icing. These stores are targeted towards young women aged 19–28. The merchandise has a higher price point, and is more mature. Most items are accessories and jewelry, but merchandise also includes items like candles, mineral-based cosmetics,21st birthday accessories, bachelorette accessories, footwear and many other items. Icing typically does not offer licensed merchandise, giving the stores considerably less inventory, creating a less "over-stuffed" feel to customers.[17]

Other variations of these stores exist, such as an Icing store on Halsted Street in Chicago with marble fixtures and a more "boutique" styling.


Claire's sell accessories geared towards tweens, teens, and young adults, meant to imitate higher end fashion trends. Costume jewelry, imitation jewelry of precious gems and materials such as pearls and diamonds, branded merchandise advertising tween musicians, body jewelry, hair accessories, and clothing items are available for purchase. The store's merchandise is often divided into sections. Claire's Club is a line of accessories meant for children under 12, featuring princess-themed jewelry and accessories with children's musicians such as Sophia Grace and Rosie. The rest of the store is for tweens to teens, or those over 12 years of age.

Claire's also carries an assortment of seasonal holiday items such as Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day, Easter, 4th of July, Halloween, and Christmas items.

Nearly all Claire's locations also offer ear piercing as all the staff are full trained in using the Studex 'gun'. Claire's start piercing customers at the age of three months with their second set of immunizations and does not pierce the cartilage of people under 13.

The store carries its own range of perfumes.


  1. ^ "Claire’s Stores names Beatrice Lafon as CEO". 
  2. ^ a b c Claire's Stores, Inc. 10-K filing for fiscal year ending Jan 2009 (April 28, 2009)
  3. ^ a b Claire's Stores, Inc. 10-K filing for fiscal year ending Jan 2014
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Get your ears pierced at Claire's". Claire's Stores, Inc. Retrieved 20 August 2009. [dead link]
  6. ^ a b Mann, Leslie. "Hot Stuff." Chicago Tribune. December 14, 1997. Retrieved on December 24, 2011. "Since 1973, Schaefer has been commuting from his offices in Pembroke Pines, Fla., to the company's main facility and distribution center, first located in Wood Dale and now in Hoffman Estates. (The company also has offices in New York and Hong Kong.)"
  7. ^ a b c d e Funding Universe: History of Claire's Stores, Inc.
  8. ^ "TO EXPAND OVERSEAS, CLAIRE'S STORES ACQUIRES OPTION TO BUY BRITISH CHAIN." Miami Herald. September 6, 1995. p. 3C Business. Retrieved on June 20, 2013.
  9. ^ Altaner, David. "CLAIRE'S BUYS SWISS CHAIN; 53-STORE BIJOUX ONE EXPANDS COMPANY'S EUROPEAN BASE." Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel. November 12, 1998. Business 3D. Retrieved on June 20, 2013. "Claire's Stores based in Pembroke Pines, said on Wednesday that it bought a Swiss women's accessory chain, Bijoux One, that it expects to use as an entry into[...]"
  10. ^ "CLAIRE'S SETS EYES ON FRANCE." Miami Herald. December 15, 1999. p. 1C Business. Retrieved on June 20, 2013.
  11. ^ "Claire's Stores Buys Rival Afterthoughts". Sun-Sentinel. 
  12. ^ "Debt-Laden Claire's IPO Is for Test Market". Wall Street Journal. 
  13. ^ a b Russis, Martha. "PFIZER FINDS BUYER FOR ITS HEADQUARTERS." Chicago Tribune. January 13, 1995. METRO NORTHWEST p. 3. Retrieved on June 20, 2013. "Jewelry retailer Claire's Boutiques Inc. has bought the expansive Pfizer headquarters building along the Northwest Tollway near Barrington Road, a Pfizer representative said Thursday. Pfizer spokesman Andy McCormick said the headquarters was sold early this month for $7.4 million as part of the company's move to consolidate its distribution operations to Memphis. [...] The Hoffman Estates building at 2400 Central Rd. has 247,000 square feet of space. Claire's Boutiques' national headquarters is now in Wood Dale at 1501 N.[...]"
  14. ^ Wallace, Diana. "Claire's unveils plans for large expansion in Hoffman Estates." Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, Illinois). March 18, 1998. News p. 4. Retrieved on June 20, 2013. "Claire's, the women's accessories giant, is planning an expansion expected to double the number of employees at its Hoffman Estates distribution center over the next two years. Plans for a 275,000-square-foot warehouse and two-story office-building addition to the shipping headquarters located at 2400 W. Central Road were unveiled to Hoffman Estates trustees this week for a preliminary review. The expansion would more than double the space at the site,[...]"
  15. ^
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