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Claire's Stores names Beatrice Lafon as CEO

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CHICAGO (AP) — Claire's Stores Inc. has named an insider to serve as the new CEO of the jewelry and accessories company following the resignation of its current chief executive.

The Chicago-based retailer said Tuesday that James Fielding has resigned and will be replaced by Beatrice Lafon, president of its business in Europe. The change takes effect Wednesday.

Claire's did not give a reason or further detail for Fielding's departure, but made the announcement as it reported a dramatic drop in its quarterly profit.

The privately-held company said that it earned $7.4 million for the period that ended Feb. 1, down from net income of $42.2 million in the prior year. The company was weighed down by higher expenses for severance, transaction-related costs and depreciation and amortization.

Its quarterly revenue also dropped nearly 12 percent to $435.5 million from $493.4 million. The retailer attributed the decline to weaker revenue from its established stores, some store closures and a decrease in shipments to franchisees. The prior year's quarter also got a boost from an extra week.

The company recently decided to close its stores in China. It is in the process of closing its office and 17 company-operated stores there but said that it is looking into reintroducing the brand through a franchise model.

Claire's said that its revenue from stores open at least a year fell 10.7 percent with weakness in both the U.S. and Europe. This is considered a key indicator of financial health as it strips away the impact of recently opened or closed sites.

The company has 3,535 stores globally, of which 421 are franchised.

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