77-Year-Old Johnson Publishing Files for Bankruptcy, Fails To Restructure

Johnson Publishing Co., the iconic black-owned media company and former owner of Ebony and Jet magazines, announced Tuesday it had filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and was selling its assets.

The company’s assets and liabilities are each listed at between $10 million and $50 million, with 275 creditors listed on the bankruptcy petition.

Founded in 1942, the Chicago-based company cited a failure to restructure, secure alternative financing or find a buyer as the basis for its decision, reports The Wall Street Journal.

The company stated: “A confluence of adverse events and factors outside of the company’s control led to this decision,” which included the failure of the purchaser of its media division to make payments, the bankruptcy of one of Johnson Publishing’s largest retailers and competition in the ecommerce cosmetic business.



Johnson Publishing sold Ebony and Jet — both founded by publisher John H. Johnson in 1945 and 1951, respectively — to Austin, Texas-based private-equity firm Clear View Group in 2015 for an undisclosed amount.

However, the company still owns Fashion Fair Cosmetics, a beauty line created for women of color in 1973 by the late Eunice W. Johnson. The brand was inspired by the Ebony Fashion Fair Show, founded by Johnson, and sells skin-care, fragrance and hair-care products.

According to the WSJ, the publisher said a group “advancing cultural preservation, supporting community-based businesses and building and operating legacy brands” is set to acquire some of its assets, with the approval of the bankruptcy court.

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