Despite being over 30 years old, The Gymboree Corp. is still a retail toddler, stumbling periodically, learning quickly, and growing fast. The company sells clothes and accessories for kids in the US, Puerto Rico, Canada, and now Australia at about 635 Gymboree stores that carry colorful, fashionable playsuits and rompers for kids up to 12 years old. It also operates some 125 Janie and Jack (better newborn and toddler apparel) and 150-plus Gymboree Outlet stores and corresponding e-commerce sites. Its youngest chain is value-priced Crazy 8. The company also provides parent-child play programs (designed to enhance child development) for newborns to age five. Founded in 1976, Gymboree is owned by Bain Capital.
Gymboree's private-equity parent paid a rich price for the chain's growth and strong sales: $1.8 billion ($64.50 per share), about 20% above its market value in late 2010. The youngest and fastest growing of Gymboree's retail concepts is Crazy 8 (lauched in 2007), with more than 200 locations throughout the US. Crazy 8 stores offer discounted apparel in sizes ranging from newborn up to size 14. The chain's focus on value-priced apparel was a good fit for the thrifty times of the recent recession. The Gymboree and Janie and Jack retail concepts span the price-range of children's clothing; Janie and Jack sells higher-priced apparel than Gymboree stores, and the Gymboree Outlet shops sell lower-priced clothing
In fiscal 2011 (ends January) Gymboree's net sales topped $1.1 billion, up nearly 6% vs. the previous year. Same-store sales however declined by 2% over the same period. In fiscal 2011, the retailer opened its first stores in Australia. Other target markets will include the Middle East. The chain is growing at a rate of about 100 to 125 new stores per year.
Retail sales account for 99% of the company's revenues, with the Play & Music business -- with nearly 700 franchised and company-operated Gymboree Play & Music centers in the US and three dozen other countries -- contributing just 1%. The Play & Music business also sells developmental toys, books, and music for young children.
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