Claire’s post 17% gain in December

Claire’s Stores Inc., Pembroke Pines, Fla., In a press release Thursday, said total sales increased 17% in December to $183.1 million from $157 million a year ago.

For the first eleven months of fiscal 2003, same store sales increased 5%, while total sales rose 9% to $943.7 million from $868.3 million for the comparable period last year.

In December, Claire’s Accessories North America saw same-store sales rise in the positive mid-teens, Claire’s Accessories Europe’s same-store sales rose in the positive mid-single digits, and Icing by Claire’s (Afterthoughts) same-store sales rose in the positive low single digits.

Claire’s Stores Inc. principal activity is the retail distribution of fashion accessories and apparel for pre-teens and teenagers. The Group’s operations are divided into costume jewelry, and fashion accessories. Costume jewelry includes earrings and ear piercing services. The stores operate under the names Claire’s Boutiques, Claire’s Accessories, Afterthoughts, The Icing, Bijoux One, and Icing by Claires. The Group operates 2,877 stores throughout the United States, Canada, the Caribbean, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Austria, Germany, France, Ireland, and Japan. During 2001, the Group discontinued the apparel division, which operated under the trade name Mr. Rags. Fashion accessories accounted for 54% of 2001 revenues and Costume jewelry, 46%.