Chico's is a retail women's clothing chain founded in 1983 by a three-person operation on Sanibel Island, Florida. Chico's FAS, Inc. is an American women’s clothing and accessories retailer. The company was founded by Marvin and Helene Gralnick and is headquartered in Ft. Myers, Florida. Chico's FAS operates three brands: its namesake Chico's, White House | Black Market and Soma. As of November 1, 2014, Chico's FAS operated 1,557 women's clothing stores in the US and Canada and sold merchandise through franchise locations in Mexico.
Founders Marvin and Helene Gralnick, met in 1972 while living in Guadalajara, Mexico. In 1983, they opened a tiny Mexican folk art gift shop in Periwinkle Place on Sanibel Island, Florida. Helene named the shop Folk Art Specialties and then changed the name to Chico's Folk Art Specialties after a friend’s pet parrot, Chico. The store sold mostly art, but the sweaters in the store outsold everything else, so Chico's Folk Art Specialties transformed into a clothing boutique.
In 1985, Chico's Folk Art Specialties opened a second boutique on Captiva Island, Florida. All early boutiques were infused with Mexican folk art combined with antiques and fixtures manufactured in Marvin’s in-house woodshop.
In the beginning, Marvin and Helene would not close the store until they reached a certain amount of sales each day. They also could not afford to have bags printed, so the name was handwritten on each bag.
The first franchise store opened in Edina, Minnesota in 1987. In 1989, the company shortened its name to Chico's FAS (an abbreviation for Folk Art Specialties) and launched the Passport Loyalty Rewards program.
In 1991, Chico's FAS expanded into cities ranging from Santa Fe, New Mexico to Newport, Rhode Island. By 1992, the company operated 60 boutiques and began designing its own prints and patterns.
Chico's FAS went public in 1993 and began trading on NASDAQ under the title CHCS. It premiered its Most Amazing Personal Service (MAPS) customer service initiative in 1998. Between 1998 and 2000, Chico's sales increased an average of 50 percent per year.
In 1999, Chico's FAS began online sales at Chicos.com in 1999. It also began advertising in national magazines, including Martha Stewart Living and Marie Claire.
In 2001, the Chico's FAS Founders building opened in Fort Myers, Florida, and Chico's FAS debuted on the New York Stock Exchange.
Chico's FAS aired its first commercial in six major markets on The Today Show, Good Morning America, and The Oprah Winfrey Show, and on Martha Stewart Living.
Average new store sales reached $1.45 million per year in 2003. The next year, Chico's FAS acquired White House | Black Market, a women’s clothing company that focuses on white, black, and other variants of the two colors. Chico's FAS also launched Soma, an intimate apparel boutique.
In 2006, Chico's FAS added 24 acres to the Fort Myers campus to support growth and stock reached a high of $49.40.
In 2011, Chico's FAS acquired Boston Proper, which is a brand available online or by catalog. Two years later, Boston Proper opened its first boutique at Coconut Point in Estero, Florida.
As of January 2014, Chico's FAS Inc was accused, by a Florida-based handbag designer, in a lawsuit of forcing the designer "to copy other designers’ creations."
In 2013, Chico's FAS expanded internationally by opening White House | Black Market stores in Canada. On May 13, 2014, Chico's FAS announced expansion of the Chico's brand into Canada. Three boutiques have since opened in Canada. Further international expansion has occurred with its namesake Chico's into Mexico in 2014. Through an exclusive franchise with El Puerto de Liverpool ("Liverpool"), Chico's opened a stand-alone boutique at Perisur Mall, Mexico City. Plans for further Chico's expansion into Mexico include more openings of stand-alone boutiques as well as branded shop-in-shops in Liverpool department stores.
Chico's primarily sells private branded clothing for women, with a focus on jackets, statement jewelry and clothing with bold prints and patterns. The brand has its own unique sizing that runs from 000-4.5.
The White House | Black Market brand began in 1985 in Baltimore, Maryland and was acquired by Chico's FAS in 2003. It primarily offers exclusively designed, private label women’s clothing and accessory items with a "boutique feel". Accessory items range from shoes to scarves to jewelry and belts. The focus of each seasonal assortment ranges from everyday basics, to wear-to-work, to fashion in monochromatic black, white, and related shades with "seasonal color splashes".
Soma was launched by Chico's FAS in 2004. The brand primarily sells lingerie, sleepwear and beauty products. The brand also offers dresses and loungewear. Lines with "slimming solutions" include loungewear, swimwear and corsetry.
As of November 1, 2014, Chico's FAS had 1,557 store locations. Stores are located in 48 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and Canada. As of November 1, 2014, the store breakdown per brand was as follows:
Chico's FAS' marketing program consists of several components including rewards programs, direct marketing activities including direct mail and email, digital marketing efforts, social marketing and outreach programs.
In 1989, Chico's FAS was listed in Inc. magazine’s 500 fastest-growing, privately held companies in America. In 1993, Chico's FAS placed 13th on the BusinessWeek’s list of the 100 Best Small Corporations.
In 2001, Chico's FAS earned a place on Fortune’s 100 Fastest-Growing Companies, BusinessWeek’s 100 Best Small Companies, and the number one spot on Forbes’ 200 Best Small Companies. The following year, Oprah named Chico's Silver Ox Cuff Watch one of her “Favorite Things.”
On April 20, 2005, the Bellwether Report identified the company and analysts began to track Chico's FAS because of its significant corporate development during that time.
The current leadership is:
Chico's FAS and its brands participate in organizations helping women's and children's health, well-being, and education. Chico's FAS has done work with Living Beyond Breast Cancer (LBBC) and Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals (CMN Hospitals).