February 4, 2013, 12:36 PM

Build-A-Bear CEO will retire

The retailer forecasts a 14% increase in e-commerce sales for the fourth quarter.

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Build-A-Bear Workshop Inc. founder and CEO Maxine Clark announced last week that she plans to retire. She will remain in her position until the retailer names a replacement and then will continue serving on the board of directors, the retailer says.

“Although our business has experienced challenges over the past few years as consumers have reduced discretionary purchases, our strategic plan and key initiatives are beginning to work,” Clark says. “I believe now is an opportune time to attract a new chief executive to take this incredible brand forward.”

Build-A-Bear is No. 538 in Internet Retailer Second 500 guide.

The retailer also announced it is forecasting a 14% year-over-year increase in e-commerce sales, for the fourth quarter ended Dec. 29, 2012. That’s alongside a likely 1.7% decline in comparable-store sales, it says, still an improvement from the 11.1% decline in existing-store sales it reported in Q3 2012 compared to the same quarter a year earlier. Comparable-store sales measure the sales performance for stores that have been open for at least one year.

The retailer plans to announce full earnings for the quarter Feb. 14.

Build-A-Bear stores provide a space, materials and staff to help consumers create custom stuffed animals. Online, it sells stuffed animals, accessories, gift cards, personalized gifts and virtual goods for kids to use on game and entertainment web site Bearville.com, including animal characters and game credits.

This year and next, Build-A-Bear will shutter 50 to 60 of its more than 400 retail stores as part of its plan to shift about 20% of sales from those properties into other locations in the same areas, it says. It will also remodel 40 to 50 stores by the end of 2014, it says. Build-A-Bear did not immediately respond to a request for comments on how these changes will impact online sales

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