Commentary

Brooks Brothers, Daily News, Penney Muddle Through Changed Business Landscape

Button-down  types can breathe a sigh of relief. The bankrupt Brooks Brothers brand will survive.

“Brooks Brothers will likely be sold out of bankruptcy for $325 million this week after the storied retailer’s leading suitor hiked its offer by $20 million,” Noah Manskar writes  for the New York Post.

“The New York-based clothier picked Sparc Group LLC -- a partnership between mall owner Simon Property Group and brand-licensing firm Authentic Brands Group -- as its winning buyer late Tuesday after scrapping a bankruptcy auction planned for earlier in the day. A federal judge will consider whether to approve the sale at a hearing set for 10 a.m. Friday,” Manskar adds.

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“The mall owner and A.B.G. have teamed up on deals to buy other bankrupt retailers in recent years, including the teen chain Aéropostale and the fast-fashion behemoth Forever 21. SPARC has also bid on Lucky Brand, the denim company that filed for bankruptcy last month. A.B.G. is known for acquiring the intellectual property of brands like Barneys New York and Sports Illustrated, then licensing their names to other companies and earning royalties from related products,” Sapna Maheshwari writes  for The New York Times.

“The 202-year-old New York-based clothier, which has dressed nearly every U.S. president, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in July, joining a list of other big retailers such as J.C. Penney, J. Crew and Neiman Marcus, that have also filed for bankruptcy protection as store sales nationwide are decimated by the pandemic,” CBS News reminds us.

“The company later clinched a $305 million ‘stalking horse’ deal with SPARC that set the floor for other offers in a bankruptcy auction,” a CNBC story recalls.

“Brooks Brothers had already been struggling as corporate America, including Wall Street, relaxed its dress code for employees, allowing them to choose casual dressing over bespoke suits. The U.S. retailer had set a deadline last week to receive offers better than Authentic Brands and Simon Property's, but none came in, sources familiar with the matter had told Reuters,” it continues.

That initial agreement was announced in a statement  on July 23.

“‘The bidders intend to preserve the iconic Brooks Brothers brand,’ the statement said, adding that the agreement was expected to close by the end of the month,” Tim Balk posts  for the New York Daily News.

Meanwhile, in a “a move that was almost unthinkable before the coronavirus pandemic,” The New York Times’ Marc Tracy reports that Tribune Publishing yesterday announced it is permanently shutting down the “famous … bustling” newsroom of the Daily News, and four other newspapers it controls. They will continue to operate with staff working remotely.

I got my start in this business in that smoke-filled newsroom as a 16-year-old part-time copyboy 52 years ago  when its print circulation was about two million copies daily. It was reportedly down to less than 200,000 three years before COVID-19 hit.

And former Daily Newsadvertiser  J.C. Penney yesterday “said it is still working toward a deal on a going concern sale. The retailer’s advisers told a Texas bankruptcy court on Wednesday that constructive negotiations are still ongoing, and that the company believes it is close to an agreement,” Sindhu Sundar reports  for Yahoo Finance.

And Simon Property Group is reportedly among the negotiators.

“Two of J.C. Penney Co.’s largest landlords have emerged as the leading contenders to acquire the department-store chain’s retail business out of bankruptcy, according to people familiar with the matter,” Alexander Gladstone and Andrew Scurria reveal  in The Wall Street Journal.

“Simon Property Group Inc., the biggest mall owner in the U.S. by number of malls, and Brookfield Property Partners LP, another big shopping center owner, have joined together and are in advanced talks to purchase Penney’s retail operations, people familiar with the matter said. In recent days, the pair have eclipsed other interested bidders, according to the people.”

None of the parties involved, or purportedly involved, would comment on the information.

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