Ascena Retail Group Inc.’s Justice brand has a new stalking-horse bidder.
In a statement yesterday, Bluestar Alliance LLC announced that it has become the leading bidder for tween retailer. (Justice is owned by Tween Brands Inc., whose parent is Ascena.) Bluestar’s bid is valued at more than $60 million — $44 million of which is in cash — and would include the purchase of Justice’s intellectual property plus related assets, as well as assumption of certain liabilities.
“We offered a bid that we believe speaks to the strong existing connection consumers have to the Justice brand and its future potential,” Bluestar CEO Joey Gabbay said. “We look forward to maximizing the business with both current and new partners, as well as growing the brand to enhance and expand its current footprint.”
It added that the Justice label would be an ideal fit for its existing brand portfolio, which includes Hurley, Bebe, Tahari, Brookstone, Kensie, Limited Too, Nanette Lepore and Catherine Malandrino. Bluestar’s brick-and-mortar footprint is currently made up of about 250 stores, shop-in-shops and distributors across North America, Europe and South America, as well as Japan, China, Korea, Australia, the Middle East and more.
“We have had significant success in the teen, tween and children’s markets and believe the Justice brand will benefit from our existing relationships and sizable market share,” added COO Ralph Gindi.
The bid overtakes last week’s proposal from Premier Brands Justice LLC, which is said to have offered $35 million for Justice’s intellectual property, e-commerce business and other assets.
Formerly known as Limited Too, Justice — which became a subsidiary of Ascena in 2009 — offers fashion, footwear and accessories for girls aged 6 through 12. Its physical units were found across the United States and Canada, as well as in Asia, Mexico and the Middle East.
However, three months ago, Ascena revealed that it would shut down about 600 of the more than 800 outposts in Justice’s brick-and-mortar fleet. (Liquidation sales for those stores lasted between 30 to 60 days.) According to its owner, Justice is expected to transition into a “primarily online platform.”