May 7, 2008, 12:00 AM

Disney takes over DisneyStore.com

The Walt Disney Co. has acquired the assets of The Disney Store chain, including DisneyStore.com, from a business unit of The Children’s Place Retail Stores.

The Walt Disney Co. has acquired the remaining assets of The Disney Store chain, including DisneyStore.com, from a business unit of The Children’s Place Retail Stores Inc.

On May 1, Disney, No. 67 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, purchased the assets of The Disney Store from Hoop Holdings LLC, a business unit of The Children’s Place, for about $55 million.

In 2004, The Children’s Place, No. 181 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, signed a licensing agreement with Disney to operate about 313 Disney Store locations in North America.

But in March The Children’s Place began winding down its Disney Store business after the chain generated a 2007 operating loss of $107.3 million, the company says.

In March Hoop Holdings filed for bankruptcy and The Children’s Place began discussions with Disney about taking over the business. “We can once again focus exclusively on building our core namesake brand and driving the business forward,” says The Children’s Place interim CEO Chuck Crovitz. “For Hoop, the transfer of the DSNA business back to Disney maximizes the return to creditors, enables a substantial portion of the chain to continue operating, and is in the best interest of Hoop’s suppliers, landlords, creditors and others.”

With the Disney Store back under its own management, Disney has named James D. Fielding as president of Disney Stores Worldwide. His first task will be closing about 98 stores and maximizing sales at about 111 more locations, Disney says.

Disney already operates a separate e-commerce site: DisneyShopping.com. But by purchasing the assets of The Disney Store it also now controls DisneyStore.com, which launched in July. Disney isn’t saying if DisneyStore.com will remain as a separate e-commerce site or be consolidated into DisneyShopping.com, an arm of the Walt Disney Internet Group.

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