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PEMBROKE PINES, FL-Private-equity firm Apollo Management is acquiring teen female accessories chain Claire’s Stores for about $3.1 billion, or $33 per share. The deal follows an announcement late last year by Claire’s management that it was looking to sell the 3,300-store company.

New York City-based Apollo has a long track record in the retail industry. It is selling the 4,800-store General Nutrition Centers for $1.65 billion and was a buyer last year in the $1.2-billion purchase of the Lord & Taylor department-store chain.

“We believe that the increased flexibility available to a private company will enable Claire’s to capitalize on the many opportunities before it, both here and abroad,” says Peter Copses, a senior partner at Apollo, in a statement, noting that his firm is “committed to Claire’s continued growth as a highly successful global specialty retailer.”

Claire’s has grown considerably over the last few years. The retailer has doubled its store base over the past 10 years and sales per sf in its units have increased from $296 to $477 over that time. About 3,000 of its stores are in North America and Europe, close to 200 are located in Japan, and 120 are operated through a licensing agreement in the Middle East and Turkey.

Claire’s stock closed yesterday at $31.88 per share. The company’s same-stores sales in February inched up 1% year over year in February. Total sales were up 9% to nearly $99 million.

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