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Tween Retailer Justice Has a New Owner

Ascena Retail Group Inc.’s Justice brand has a new owner.

In a statement this morning, Bluestar Alliance LLC announced that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire the tween retailer.

The winning bid, made at a competitive auction conducted by the chain’s parent company, was valued at roughly $90 million. It was approximately $30 million more than the stalking-horse bid offered by Bluestar three weeks ago and includes Justice’s intellectual property plus certain related assets, as well as the assumption of certain liabilities.

“Bluestar has continued to grow and strategically build its portfolio,” said Bluestar CEO Joseph Gabbay. “Justice is an important asset with years of growth ahead. An icon of tween culture, with its influence felt across fashion, lifestyle, pop culture and more, we see opportunity for global brand extensions and partnerships.”

The brand management firm’s co-founder, Ralph Gindi, added, “Justice is the world’s best-known tween brand, yet it still has the capacity to grow, particularly in categories and distribution. Our goal is to create even deeper connections with our consumers and the brand while expanding Justice’s reach and footprint.”

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A hearing to seek court approval is scheduled for tomorrow, and the transaction is expected to close by the end of the month.

Bluestar’s existing brand portfolio includes the Hurley, Bebe, Tahari, Brookstone, Kensie, Limited Too, Nanette Lepore and Catherine Malandrino labels. Its 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.

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 located 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 the chain’s brick-and-mortar fleet. (Liquidation sales for those stores lasted between 30 to 60 days.) It announced that Justice was expected to transition into a “primarily online platform.”
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