Barneys, Full of Yearning, Looks to Its Next Life

Sindhu Sundar

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Barneys New York, flanked by lawyers and financial advisers for months as it tangled with landlords, vendors and investors, is showing a more vulnerable side. The retailer has found in Authentic Brands Group a prospective buyer that would scoop up its web site and brand name — and potentially keep some stores after liquidating the current stock. 

In a wistful Instagram post on Friday, the retailer described the ABG bid as a “positive step forward.” But it alluded to hopes for more. Perhaps a white knight, who would come in with the promise of a going concern bid that would keep the stores humming. 

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“We are working hard to achieve a successful sale process that will preserve the integrity of this incredible brand and ultimately benefit our employees, customers, vendors, and other business partners. We appreciate your patience and ongoing support of Barneys 🖤” Barneys posted. 

Despite the $271.4 million stalking-horse deal with ABG and lender B. Riley, some of the retailer’s main constituencies, like vendors and employees, appear to still be pinning their hopes on Sam Ben-Avraham. The Kith backer is still in talks with landlords, vendors and employees to put together a bid for around $250 million or more that would keep the retailer’s stores open in a going concern bid, according to a person familiar with the discussions.

Though the amount falls short of ABG’s bid and an $8.1 million break-up fee under the agreement, Barneys’ creditors could persuade the retailer to accept a going concern bid seen as better for employees and other stakeholders. Some 800 Barneys employees, including retail sales and warehouse workers, are represented by the union that sits on its creditors committee, and are still waiting to learn their fate. 

If ABG prevails, it would set off liquidations at Barneys stores, leaving uncertainty about what the retailer’s brick-and-mortar presence would look like. Ben-Avraham has until Tuesday to rustle up the funds to make his bid to buy Barneys in a going concern sale that would keep its stores open.

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