rue21 Inc., formerly known as Pennsylvania Fashions Inc. (as well as $9.99 Stockroom, rue21), is headquartered in the Pittsburgh suburb of Warrendale, Pennsylvania. It is a specialty discount retailer of young men and women’s casual apparel and accessories. Its clothes are designed to appeal to 11- to 17-year-olds who aspire to be 21 and adults who want to look and feel 21. Rue in French means street. In 2013, Apax Partners, a global private equity firm, acquired the company by funds advised for $42.00 per share in cash.
In February 2002 Pennsylvania Fashions Inc., filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. It was then that SKM emerged as the majority stakeholder three years after Cary Klein sold a 50% stake to the Stamford, Connecticut-based investment firm. At the time sales among the nearly 250 stores were thought to be between $180 and $200 million annually with approximately 1,800 employees.
The company exited Chapter 11 as rue21 Inc. in May 2003 after undergoing voluntary reorganization. It set out an ambitious plan to expand its 170 stores over the next five years. Their ability to expand into underserved markets is evident by the store growth from their 500th store in Harlingen, TX on July 23, 2009 through November 14, 2013, when they opened their 1000th store in Enid, Oklahoma.
rue21 continued its growth and expansion on March 17, 2011 by announcing that it would be doubling the size of its 189,000-square-foot (17,600 m2) Distribution Center located in Weirton, West Virginia. This expansion occurred 12 months after a Distribution Center upgrade that included a new pack-to-light system as well as upgrades to the warehouse management system. CFO Keith McDonough stated, "The recently completed Distribution Center upgrades, including additional packing capacity, new systems and performance metrics, coupled with this planned expansion, gives us the ability to support our current stores and gives us the flexibility for our planned future growth." This upgrade was completed in June 2012.
rue21 offers its own brands, such as rue21 etc.!, CARBON elements, tarea and rueKicks, ruebeauté!, ruebleu Swim, rueDecor, in addition to other brands in its stores to create merchandise excitement and differentiation in its stores. Its website displays selected inventory that is available in their brick & mortar stores. As of November 2013, U.S.-based customers have been able to purchase merchandise off of the redesigned website. In select stores rue21 also offers rueGuy, an expanded men’s department with a more male-inspired layout, design, and fashion selection.
On November 6, 2014, rue21 began offering plus sizes for women, in various categories of merchandise, with their rue+ brand.