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Bankrupt Stein Mart Poised for 2021 Revival

Stein Mart’s August bankruptcy collapse wasn’t the end of the road for the off-price retailer of family fashion and home goods.

A majority-owned subsidiary of Miami-based Retail Ecommerce Ventures (REV), which has relaunched failed chains Dressbarn and Pier 1 as asset-light e-tailers, is giving Stein Mart new life online after paying $6.02 million to acquire the merchant’s nameplate, private labels, domain names, social media assets and customer data from Hilco Streambank.

While Stein Mart was in financial distress before the coronavirus pandemic, its subsequent meltdown and impending renaissance follow a familiar playbook seen throughout 2020 as fashion shies away from bricks and mortar and bets on the consumer love affair with online commerce. Bootwear brand Frye, for example, closed all 16 stores to focus on digital, in addition to its wholesale partners. Stein Mart commanded 281 stores across 30 states when it filed for bankruptcy.

Though Simon Property Group and its affiliates have been a savior to many mall-based chains, REV launched last year to rescue last-gasp nameplates, renewing “businesses that have struggled in the age of ecommerce,” it says.

“Our growing set of investors sees Stein Mart as another important addition to our increasing stable of venerable brick-and-mortar retail brands that we are bringing back-to-life as online destinations,” said Alex Mehr, CEO of REV, which over the past two years has also acquired home goods chain Linens ‘N Things and Modell’s Sporting Goods.

What’s more, REV sees untapped potential for Stein Mart’s growth online, especially as the off-price sector as a whole has lagged in building a viable e-commerce channel to complement the in-store treasure hunt.

Stein Mart’s “investments in an omnichannel platform for its offering of designer and private label fashion apparel, shoes, home décor and accessories paved the way for to post double digit sales growth and increase its average online order to $80,” said REV executive chariman Tai Lopez, noting plans to augment these capabilities and attract new shoppers with an expanded merchandising mix and targeted social campaigns.