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Hototc Featured Company: Charming Shoppes (CHRS) Retooling for the New Year

The retail clothing marketplace appears to be coming off a poorer than expected holiday season. How purveyors of retail fashion reset their priorities, for coming quarters, may lead to some interesting changes.

Charming Shoppes, Inc., a multi brand/multi channel clothing marketing company, is currently marking adjustments after two disappointing sales periods. To right the company’s direction, current strategy changes include: additions to the company’s marketing arm, stock repurchasing and expansion of marketing channels. Leading brands of the company include: Lane Bryant, Fashion Bug and Catherines’ Plus Sizes.

Post Christmas tabulation of holiday sales is ongoing, although several retailers have been finding less then positive results. Although not catastrophic, by any means, many major retailers have begun to reorient their work forces to account for the poor results of the season. Charming Shoppes, Inc. will likely find the same results but also has the added burden of a poor Fall selling season. These results have not gone unnoticed by larger blocks of stockholders who are currently weighing their options.

From all indications, the company and Crescendo Partners, LLC. are at the beginning of a struggle for board control. Crescendo Partners, LLC, an over 5% stock owner, has offered its own slate of three board members, to be voted on at the company’s 2008 annual meeting. While Charming Shoppes is open to discussions on this matter it indicates that it feels comfortable with its eight member board, including 7 independent members. While the current board is outwardly favorable to discussions, its offer to repurchase a large block of shares, boosting stock price, may offer a contradicting point of view. A course of action has been set in motion by the current board to reinvigorate sales, but in reality, it may be the retail environment and a looming proxy fight that settles any forthcoming disputes.

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