Lil'panda Signs a Slew of Licensing Deals

Tween fashion brand Lil'panda has signed a handful of licensees - the first for the brand - that are slated to hit shelves next spring. The collections include: greeting cards from American Greetings; headwear, gloves, scarves, sweatshirts, bags, wallets, coin purses, hosiery, audio accessories and lanyards from Bioworld Merchandising; girls' sportswear by Evy of California; plush from Gund; and juniors' and girls' tops by Leigh of California.

Big Tent, Mezco Produce Domo Toys

Big Tent Entertainment is teaming up with toy brand Mezco for a brand new line of products for the Domo -  a Japanese television character-brand. The collection, which will hit stores across the U.S. later this year, will include items such as bobble heads, clip-on figures, action figures and wind-up walking toys. "The Domo fanbase is always hungry for new and exciting collectibles featuring our iconic friend," notes Rich Maryyanek, chief marketing office for Big Tent. "This new line really captures the essence of the character."

K.I.D.S. 6th Annual Women in Industry Luncheon

On Thursday, May 1st Kids in Distressed Situations (K.I.D.S.) will take time to celebrate women who have made a positive impact in their fields. Honoree Kathy Ireland, CEO and Chief Designer of Kathy Ireland Worldwide, will also serve as the keynote speaker for the lunch. Other honorees include President of Stride Rite Children's Group Sharon John and President and General Manager of PBS KIDS Sprout Sandy Wax. The lunch will be held at The Plaza Hotel in New York City from 11:15 am to 2 pm and will include a reception and silent auction. Tickets are sold on a first come, first serve basis.

Cutie Pie Baby Inc. Grows Up!

Cutie Pie Baby, Inc. has grown out of its 9,000 square foot office on the 9th floor of 34 W 33rd Street and into a "big kid," 17,000 square foot office on the 5th floor of the same building. The official move will take place on August 1, 2012. The increased space is perfect for the expanding company who recently acquired Robar, Inc. Fishman & Tobin Apparel formerly occupied the brand's new office that includes a conference room, several private offices and showrooms to display their lines.

Spring Retail Sales Bloom

According to the National Retail Federation, March retail sales increased 0.8 percent from February and 6.6 percent year-over-year. In a press release, Matthew Shay, president and CEO of NRF, said consumers are demonstrating the intent and ability to spend on discretionary items. Specifically, clothing and accessories sales increased 0.9 percent seasonally adjusted month-to-month and 12.5 percent unadjusted year-over-year. Other categories that saw moderate growth are furniture and home furnishings, spring goods, books and music.

"Yo Gabba Gabba!" Expands its Toy Line

Wildbrain Entertainment and its hit preschool show "Yo Gabba Gabba!" sealed a deal with Jazwares for an expanded toy line, including items like accessories, plush, play sets, vehicles and musical toys that will be available beginning next spring.

The Smiley Company Introduces Girls' Sleepwear

The Smiley Company is teaming up with intimate apparel brand Panties Plus to create a line of girls' underwear and sleepwear for the SmileyWorld brand in the U.S. and Canada.

The collection will include three themes-rockstar, "it" girls and emotions-and will be made up of PJ sets, shorts, vests, robes and nightshirts.

Gap Perks up the Interest of Shoppers and Wall Street Alike

Stock price of apparel chain Gap Inc. has surged 37 percent to $25.48 this year through Thursday after hitting a 10-year closing high on March 26.

Analysts are raising their price targets to $28 and higher, levels not seen since the company began to lose its footing in 2001.

The turnaround comes as U.S. same-store sales rose 3.9 percent in March, beating the estimate for a 3.3 percent gain.

Armani Junior Opens First U.S. Shop on Madison Avenue

Italian fashion house Armani will open an Armani Junior store on the corner of New York City's Madison Avenue and 88th Street, according to brokers at Prudential Douglas Elliman's retail group, who negotiated the lease on the 1,480 square-foot storefront.

The upscale children's line for newborns, tots and tweens will join a number of other children's fashion retailers lining Madison Avenue on the Upper East Side: In the past 18 months J. Crew's Crewcuts, Brooks Brothers Children and Pink Chicken have joined the area's established stores.

ABC Kids Expo Accepting Applications for Specialty Areas

ABC Kids Expo is accepting applications until April 30 from manufacturers who would like to exhibit in the fall Modern Child or Naturally Kids pavilions.

The show is set for October 14-17 in Louisville, KY, and organizers are reworking the specialty areas to ensure that products meet specific criteria.

For more information, go to www.theabcshow.com