The Bon-Ton Stores retail chain has run out of time.
After holding out hope for a suitor who would purchase it as a going-concern, The Bon-Ton only received two bids in its bankruptcy auction on Monday—and both were from liquidators, according to Reuters.
The winning bid came from a joint venture between second lien secured note holders and Great American Group, LLC and Tiger Capital Group, LLC. If the purchase is approved in bankruptcy court, the group will take possession of the company’s inventory and other assets, and wind down will begin as soon as Wednesday. The stores are scheduled to remain open throughout the going-out-of-business process.
“While we are disappointed by this outcome and tried very hard to identify bidders interested in operating the business as a going concern, we are committed to working constructively with the winning bidder to ensure an orderly wind-down of operations that minimizes the impact of this development on our associates, customers, vendors and the communities we serve,” said president and CEO Bill Tracy.
The Bon-Ton filed for bankruptcy protection in February, and since then it has been working to drum up interest in the retail group, which includes Carson’s, Bergner’s and Boston department stores. As late as one week ago, it looked like the company might be saved when two of the retailer’s landlords stepped up with a letter of intent. But a bid from Namdar Realty Group and Washington Prime Group never materialized.
If the chain falls to liquidators, all intellectual and physical property, stock and leases will be sold to appease its creditors. One creditor pegs the bids at around $650 million, according to the news source.
While one group of investors had been agitating for liquidation, another was rallying to save the company, which has been on rocky footing since 2010. Ultimately, the change in consumer tastes and the retail landscape made the company’s reported $900 million in debt too much to bear.
The Bon-Ton’s Chapter 11 filing was just the latest in a long list of bankruptcies in the apparel space, some like Gymboree and Rue 21 are now defunct, while others like Payless and The Limited live on in one form or another.
This story has been updated from a previous version that was published before the retailer officially announced the results of its auction.