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Bankrupt Ascena Finds Buyer for Justice Brand

Ascena Retail Group Inc. has found a buyer for its Justice brand, selecting Premier Brands Justice as the stalking horse bidder for the sale of the assets in a bankruptcy court auction.

The auction will subject the proposed deal to better offers. Ascena said it “expects a decision about the remaining Justice retail locations to be made as part of the auction process.” Ascena plans to sell the brand’s intellectual property, e-commerce business and other assets of the tween-focused fashion brand.

“A sale of the Justice intellectual property, e-commerce business and other assets brings us closer to the completion of our restructuring process. All of our restructuring activities are focused on maximizing value for all of our stakeholders and positioning the Ascena brands for long-term success,” said Gary Muto, Ascena CEO.”With a reduced store footprint and a more focused collection of go-forward brands, we believe that Ascena will emerge from Chapter 11 better able to strategically invest in our future and generate sustainable, profitable growth. Justice remains a brand beloved by tween girls, and we look forward to a competitive auction process.”

Ascena filed its Chapter 11 petition in July, and initially shuttered 1,600 doors, shrinking its store fleet to about 1,200 locations. Last month, the bankrupt women’s specialty retailer chose FullBeauty Brands Operations LLC as the buyer for its Catherines plus-size operations for $40.8 million. FullBeauty beat out the $16 million offer by City Chic Collective USA Inc., which was chosen as the stalking-horse bidder for the court auction on Catherines’ assets.

Also last month, Ascena determined that it would close another 23 Justice stores to focus on digital instead. During its initial purge of stores in July when it shut down 1,600 locations, Justice and Catherines accounted for about 1,000 doors.