Tuesday, November 27, 2007

FAO Schwarz Acquires Best & Co.

New York, NY
November 13, 2007

FAO Schwarz, the world’s most famous toy retailer, announced today that it has acquired Best & Co., a leading retailer and manufacturer of luxury children’s apparel and accessories.

“The acquisition of Best & Co. is a strategic addition to the FAO Schwarz portfolio,” said Ed Schmults, CEO for FAO Schwarz. “It will further transform FAO Schwarz into a comprehensive lifestyle brand.”

Best & Co. currently has a flagship store in Greenwich, Conn., and a boutique in Bergdorf Goodman in New York City. The company, founded in 1879 and in operation in New York and up and down the East Coast until 1971, was famous for its children’s department. Susie Hilfiger re-established Best & Co. in 1997, bringing the essence of the brand back to life with a timeless children’s clothing collection and attracting a worldwide audience seeking classic luxury. Today the store features the Best & Co. collection, designed by Ms. Hilfiger, as well as some of the finest American and European children’s clothing and gifts collections. Select items from FAO Schwarz’s private label toy collection will be featured in the Greenwich store beginning with the 2007 holiday season.

As part of the terms of the acquisition, Ms. Hilfiger will remain creative director of Best & Co.

“FAO Schwarz plans to expand the Best & Co. brand through selective wholesale and international distribution,” added Mr. Schmults. “We will also place a strong emphasis on Best & Co.’s catalog and Web site, which will drive brand recognition, traffic and sales worldwide.”

“FAO Schwarz is renowned for offering the most imaginative toys and gifts in the world and is loved by children and their parents,” said Susie Hilfiger. “From the beginning, my vision for Best & Co. was to create a charming shopping environment for families offering the best children’s product in the world and to bring back the trusted heritage of the original store. There is great synergy between these two companies and today marks an exciting new chapter for Best & Co.’s continued growth.”

Best & Co. and FAO Schwarz share similar histories and brand values. Visionaries in their respective fields established both companies more than a century ago: Albert Best founded Best & Co in 1879; Frederick August Otto Schwarz founded FAO Schwarz in 1862.

FAO Schwarz was acquired by a member of the D. E. Shaw group, a global investment firm, in 2004. “We are proud to be able to unite these two great children’s brands,” said Daniel Posner, a managing director of D. E. Shaw & Co., L.P., and director of FAO Schwarz. “Both companies share a rich heritage of unsurpassed quality and craftsmanship, solicitous customer service and a premium retail experience. We’re confident that FAO Schwarz and Best & Co. will continue to delight children and their families for generations to come.”

About FAO Schwarz: Turning 145 years old this year, FAO Schwarz has enchanted generations of children and adults with its unparalleled selection of unique toys, unmatched customer service, and famous flagship store in Manhattan, which attracts more than three million visitors annually. One of the best-known brands in the United States, FAO Schwarz has evolved into a multi-channel retailer while still remaining true to the vision of founder Frederick August Otto Schwarz. Under the direction of CEO Ed Schmults, the company has launched a number of new initiatives that will make FAO Schwarz’s future as vital as its storied past.