Carter's has built a big business catering to little ones. Operating through its William Carter Company, it's the largest US branded marketer of apparel exclusively for babies and young children. Primary products include newborn layette clothing, sleepwear, and playwear. It markets its items under the Carter's and OshKosh B'Gosh brands, as well as private labels Child of Mine, Just One You, Genuine Kids, and Precious Firsts. While Carter's sells products online and as a wholesaler via 17,000 department and specialty stores, it also operates some 580 Carter's and OshKosh stores nationwide and 80 stores in Canada thanks to its 2011 acquisition of Bonnie Togs. Carter's was established in 1865 by William Carter.
Carter's primarily operates in the US, but has gained a foothold in Canada (9% of sales) by acquiring its longtime international licensee there. As a result, the manufacturer also boasts a growing retail presence across the nation and into Canada. Across its portfolio, the company's apparel and accessories are sold in more than 50 countries worldwide.
Effective October 2011 the company operates its business through five segments: Carter's wholesale, Carter's retail, OshKosh retail, OshKosh wholesale, and international. Following its Bonnie Togs purchase, Carter's realigned its reportable segments to include a new international segment to house its Canadian operations, existing international wholesale business, and royalty income from its international licensees.
Sales and Marketing
The company's brands compete in the $21 billion children's apparel market for children newborn to age 7. Carter's enjoys the #1 branded position and a 14% market share; OshKosh has nearly a 3% market share. Because the company uses a variety of distribution channels, it's able to market its products to a more diverse range of consumers and geographic regions.Wal-Mart sells its Child of Mine line, while Target offers the Just One You and Precious Firsts brands; the two retailers generate about 15% of sales.
Like the children it clothes, Carter's is "growing like a weed." Indeed, in 2012 Carter's posted record sales of nearly $2.4 billion, more than triple its sales in 2003. In 2012 sales increased 13% vs. 2011, while net income rose 41% over the same period. Internaitonal (Bonnie Togs in Canada) and retail sales of its Carter's brand apparel drove growth in 2012. All of the company's business segments grew, with the exception of the OshKosh Wholesale business, which posted a 3% drop in year-over-year sales. Higher selling prices, lower costs, and growth in the direct-to-consumer business all contributed to profit growth in 2012.
The company has developed a reputation for producing high-quality clothing for children -- from the cradle through the early school years. The Carter's brand and private-label collections made for mass-market customers offer apparel in newborn through children's size 7. These lines mostly consist of cotton essentials, such as bodysuits and pajamas, and collectively typically account for about two-thirds of revenues. Besides apparel, Carter's licenses bedding, toys, furnishings, baby gear, and gifts that are sold through mass merchandisers. The OshKosh brand, acquired in 2005, has extended the company's product range from newborns through children size 12. Known for its rugged playclothes, including overalls and T-shirts, OshKosh items are marketed at higher price points than the company's traditional Carter's branded products. The company is working to boost its revenues further through expansion of its retail and outlet store operations.
The infant and children's apparel manufacturer is banking on its 2011 acquisition of Bonnie Togs to ultimately provide a network of some 160 stores in Canada that contribute total annual revenues of more than $200 million by 2016.
Mergers and Acquisitions
Carter's extended its reach northward into Canada and added an international segment to its business as a result of the company's 2011 $98 million purchase of Bonnie Togs, a Canadian specialty retailer of children's apparel and accessories. Bonnie Togs had been Carter's principal licensee in Canada since 2007.
Berkshire Fund VII, L.P. owns nearly 16% of the company.