Bon-Ton Fails to Find Buyer, Will Liquidate More Than 200 Stores

Bon-Ton Stores Inc. is reaching its final days, as the department store chain announced it will be closing more than 200 stores as part of a deal to liquidate its remaining assets.

The company, which was founded in 1898, operates flagship stores in malls across the Midwest and Northeast under seven different nameplates — Carson’s, Younkers, Elder-Beerman, Bergner’s, Boston Store, Herberger’s, and Bon-Ton — and the forthcoming vacancies will present an added challenge for landlords as they cope with an already-difficult retail climate, in which anchor tenants like Sears, Macy’s, and J.C. Penney are also shuttering their less profitable doors.

When it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy earlier this year, the debt-burdened chain said it planned to close 47 stores in 2018, however efforts to find a buyer willing to invest in revitalizing the business have failed in the months since, and it has been forced to pivot to a complete shutdown.

The winning bidder is a joint venture of bondholders and liquidators, including Great American Group and Tiger Capital Group, both of whom also assisted in selling off assets in bankruptcy deals with Payless Shoesource and Toys ‘R’ Us.

“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,” said Bon-Ton’s CEO Bill Tracy in a statement.

The deal is due to be finalized on Wednesday in a U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Delaware, after which liquidation sales are expected to be underway for the next 10 to 12 weeks.

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