Jo-Ann Stores has sewn up the leadership of the fabric store market. It's the #1 US fabric retailer (ahead of Hancock Fabrics), with more than 770 Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft and Jo-Ann stores in 49 states. The stores sell fabrics and sewing supplies, craft materials, frames, home decorations, artificial floral items, and seasonal goods. Most of its small-format stores (averaging 15,000 sq. ft.) are located in strip shopping centers and operate under the Jo-Ann Fabrics and Crafts name. The company also operates about 235 large-format Jo-Ann superstores (36,000 sq. ft. on average) and an e-commerce site, Joann.com. The acquisitive private equity firm Leonard Green & Partners took Jo-Ann Stores private in 2011.
Leonard Green & Partners paid $1.6 billion (roughly $61 a share) in cash for Jo-Ann Stores in March 2011. While the fabrics retailer wasn't actively marketing itself when the offer came along, then-CEO Darrell Webb said the deal allows the company to accelerate its expansion plans and fund efforts to upgrade its stores amid increased competition with craft retailer Michaels.
The company's 770-plus retail stores are supplied from distribution centers in Alabama, California, and Hudson, Ohio, the home of Jo-Ann Stores's corporate headquarters.
All of the company's sales are rung up in the US.
While Jo-Ann Stores does not report sales as a private company, the years leading up to its purchase were good ones for the fabrics-and-crafts retailer. Indeed, Jo-Ann's profits increased more than fourfold: from $22 million in fiscal 2009 (ends January) to $93 million in fiscal 2011. The company attributed its profit growth to increased direct sourcing (in partnership with Li & Fung) and internal product development activities, as well as disciplined inventory management. The wider margins accompanied more modest sales increases during the period, as there was a small uptick in demand for sewing and craft products. Changes in consumer behavior, including families spending more time together and making their own gifts and clothes, were prompted by the recession but should they continue may help Jo-Ann Stores in the long run. E-commerce is another key business channel for Jo-Ann. During fiscal 2011 its e-commerce site saw sales rise more than 15%, with overall website traffic up by more than 30%. For reasons behind the site's improved performance, Jo-Ann pointed to the addition of 11,000 new products, more targeted marketing campaigns, and upgraded website technology and user pages since 2010.
To stay ahead of its rivals -- including Michaels Stores, which filed an IPO in 2012 -- Jo-Ann has been partnering with celebrities. Most recently, it teamed up with Tori Spelling to launch the Styled by Tori Spelling line of fashion jewelry. Styled by Tori Spelling is the first licensed jewelry line to be carried by Jo-Ann Stores. Previously, it launched the Christie Brinkley Home collection of organic cotton and other eco-friendly fabrics.
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