ST. LOUIS-Build-A-Bear Workshop is exploring strategic alternatives to “enhance long-term shareholder value,” management revealed in a statement. The news sent the stock trading around $26 per share, about 15% higher than its previous close.

Build-A-Bear’s management could be following suit with other retail companies that have gone private to quench the thirst of private-equity firms eager to snatch up chain stores. Guitar Center, Dollar General and Outback Steakhouse are among some of the companies that have either gone private or are in the process of doing so.

Build-A-Bear’s management stresses that it still has major expansion plans for the chain, which operates about 245 stores in North America, 40 UK units and about 30 franchised stores in Europe and Asia. The company’s executives see the potential for 350 North American locations and 300 units in other parts of the globe.

Earlier this month, Build-A-Bear’s earnings-per-share guidance for its fiscal year was lowered to between $1.55 and $1.65 from $1.65 and $1.75 due to lower-than-expected same-store sales. Comparable-unit sales for the second quarter, which ended June 9, are expected to plunge in the 7% to 9% range.

During the strategic alternative process, management will not provide earnings guidance for future financial periods. The company has hired Lehman Brothers to assist it in the undertaking.

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