In what is now a rare example of retail expansion, Joppa-based Merry-Go-Round Enterprises Inc. said yesterday it will increase its mall presence nationwide by acquiring up to 54 T. Edwards locations from New York-based Brooks Fashions Stores Inc.
The purchase will be financed through internally generated funds and existing credit lines, the company said. The cost was not disclosed.
Merry-Go-Round will buy the leases and the fixtures from Brooks Fashions, but it will not necessarily use the T. Edwards concept or name, said Merry-Go-Round chief financial officer Isaac Kaufman.
T. Edwards is a contemporary women's apparel chain, and Merry-Go-Round, which is experiencing enormous growth and profits in a sluggish retail environment, has established itself as a trendy clothier, especially for young men.
The retailer would like to convert the space to one of its popular Merry-Go-Round, Attivo, Cignal or or DeeJaiz stores, Mr. Kaufman said. However, the purchase is subject to landlord approval for each location, he said. The deal is expected to be completed by early next year. Analysts praised the acquisition, saying it will give the local retailer access to many top-flight malls in states across the country, including, California, Missouri, Florida, Pennsylvania and North Carolina. None of the stores is in Maryland.
"Merry-Go-Round has been saying that it wants to grow, said Henry D'Auria, who follows retailers for PaineWebber. "This is indicative of how a weak retailing environment has given a chance for strong retailers to take the place of weak ones without adding new retail space."
Brooks Fashions has more than 550 Brooks stores in addition to its T. Edwards stores. It recently emerged from 2 1/2 years of Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization.