Stein Mart Inc. has a stalking-horse bidder for its intellectual property ahead of a scheduled bankruptcy auction.
The struggling discount department store, which filed for Chapter 11 protection in mid-August, was offered $4 million for its IP assets by a Delaware-based corporation called Stein Mart Online Inc.
As part of the sale, Stein Mart will hand over its trademarks, domain names, vendor information, customer transaction data, marketing emails, social media handles and other assets to the buyer. It has proffered a deadline of Nov. 16 for any other bids, with an auction expected two days later and a hearing to consider the sale set for Nov. 23.
Stein Mart put its IP up for sale last month as it was winding down its business. Following its bankruptcy filing, where it wrote that it “lacks sufficient liquidity” to continue operations, the chain had entered into a store closing and liquidation process at its 281 locations across 30 states. (Among its largest creditors in the fashion and footwear industry were Michael Kors, to which it owed $1.27 million; Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger parent PVH Corp., which was unpaid $1.07 million; and Designer Shoe Warehouse at $855,000.)
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Stein Mart Online Inc.’s CEO is Alex Mehr, who is one of the founders of Retail Ecommerce Ventures LLC. Also named in the court filing regarding the bid for the retailer’s IP was Retail Ecommerce Ventures co-founder Taino Lopez. The investment firm, through the new subsidiary Modell’s Sporting Goods Online Inc., emerged as the winner to acquire Modell’s Sporting Goods‘ IP assets at an auction three months ago.
At the time, Mehr and Lopez’s venture had already inked two other retail deals: Last year, they bought the IP assets of Dressbarn after former parent Ascena Retail Group closed all of the retailer’s stores. (Ascena — parent to Ann Taylor, Lane Bryant, Lou & Grey and Justice — filed for Chapter 11 protection in July.) Plus, after Pier 1 went bankrupt in May and announced plans to shutter all of its outposts, that chain also caught the attention of the entrepreneurs, who paid $20 million for its assets a few months later.