Fashion Retail Empire

Charlie Chanaratsopon

Charlie Chanaratsopon was not trying to start a fashion retail empire when he founded Charming Charlie in 2004. The first-generation Thai-American was working on developing and investing in shopping centers in and around Houston and started the fashion accessories retailer, which now has over 350 stores, as a way to keep retail space filled.

It nearly folded in its first few months, but Chanaratsopon decided to keep it open an extra few weeks, and in that time its popularity with suburban moms exploded. The discount retailer expanded furiously amid the Great Recession, as Charlie Chanaratsopon and Hancock Park Associates, a private equity firm that came on board in 2007, convinced worried landlords to give them favorable lease terms. — Scott Klocksin

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Charming Charlie expands to Middle East

Houston-based accessories retailer Charming Charlie has partnered with a Dubai fashion conglomerate to open its first location outside of North America.

Charming Charlie will open two stores at City Centre Mirdif and Ibn Battuta Mall in Dubai this year. The stores will be operated by the international licensing partner Apparel Group.

The new storefronts are part of the business’ plan to aggressively expand both domestically and internationally in 2015.

The company, that started out as a single-floor retail space below the family business in 2004, said in November that it expects to open 55 new stores in 2015.


That month, the company opened its first stores outside of the U.S. in Ontario, Canada. Two additional stores in British Columbia, Canada, are also scheduled to open

Charming Charlie operates 350 stores in the U.S., Canada and now the Middle East. In 2013, Forbes estimated that the company was valued at $1 billion.

In 2012, founder and CEO Charlie Chanaratsopon told the Houston Business Journal that he was confident the company could operate as many as 1,000 stores.

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