As Barneys Pushes Alternative Bid, What Are the Real Chances It Can Best ABG?

A recent statement from Barneys New York has brought up renewed speculation about the luxury retailer’s future ahead of next week’s bankruptcy sale hearing.

A day after Authentic Brands Group declared its purchase of the intellectual property of Barneys was assured, some reports have suggested that there is still room for another bid led by Kith investor Sam Ben-Avraham to reemerge in the process. And the department store chain has taken to social media to clarify its position amid Chapter 11 proceedings.

In an Instagram post today, Barneys wrote, “Last week, we accepted a stalking horse bid by Authentic Brands Group. Following that, we received strong interest from Sam Ben-Avraham and a group of investors who are still working through a bid, which includes a full going-concern that would keep stores open and ‪Barneys.com‬ operational.”

The retailer confirmed that a sale hearing was scheduled for Oct. 31, when a judge is expected to make a final decision about Barneys’ new ownership. (The planned auction on Oct. 28 had been canceled after debtors filed a notice with the court saying that no other qualified bids were submitted.)

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A spokesperson for Barneys also told FN that the chain “is continuing to work towards a value-maximizing going-concern transaction, including in relation to a potential transaction led by Sam Ben-Avraham and his group of financial, operational and strategic partners, up to and including the Oct. 31 sale hearing.”

It marked the latest development in Barneys’ bankruptcy saga. On Oct. 16, a filing with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the Southern District of New York read that Barneys had entered into an agreement to sell its assets to ABG and B. Riley Financial Inc. in a cash deal estimated at roughly $271.4 million, as part of a stalking-horse bid.

However, a number of parties subsequently conveyed interest in purchasing the company, including Ben-Avraham, who over the weekend launched a public campaign dubbed “Save Barneys” centered around raising capital to complete his bid for the retailer.

Despite ABG’s confirmation yesterday of its victory, a statement posted yesterday on the Save Barneys Instagram page read, “We’re still here, working 24/7, around the clock to #SaveBarneys, and we’re not going anywhere … We have a different vision that would champion the community, respect it’s [sic] cultural impact, and continue its history. We believe Barneys still has a bright future ahead.”

Jane Hali, CEO of the retail investment research firm Jane Hali & Associates, expressed skepticism that Ben-Avraham would be able to shore up enough funding, but she touted the fashion trade executive’s expertise in high-end retailing — evidenced by Kith’s success in selling its own streetwear brand and popular labels like Off-White, even before the trend was thrusted into the mainstream.

“Sam Ben-Avraham knows about the new face of luxury and would keep the operation running as a best-in-class store,” Hali said. “ABG is a licensor of brands — I would expect them to take the name and run with it on all types of apparel, footwear and more. They are marketers with no real experience in luxury goods.”

ABG released last night details of its plan for Barneys, which includes growing its presence through high-fashion collaborations and namesake products, as well as dining and shopping experiences. It intends to expand the Barneys brand in key international markets, particularly in Asia, as it builds off of the success of the chain’s current stores in Japan (which would remain in operation).

Additionally, as part of a licensing agreement, Saks Fifth Avenue will become the retail partner for Barneys in the United States and Canada.

“Barneys is one of the most recognizable and iconic names in luxury lifestyle, and we see an incredible opportunity to extend the brand’s equity in current and new markets around the world,” ABG founder, chairman and CEO Jamie Salter said in a statement. “We are also excited to join forces with Saks Fifth Avenue, the preeminent luxury retailer that continues to bring innovation and fashion authority to the industry.”

This story has been updated with a quote from a Barneys spokesperson.

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