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  • INDUSTRY NEWS

    • On September 18, 2018, Claire's Stores said it struck a deal with its loudest creditor, Oaktree Capital Management, that would allow the retailer to move forward with a plan to reorganize that it negotiated ahead of its Chapter 11 filing in March. An attorney for Claire's said at a court hearing that the agreement would allow for recovery of up to 25% of second-lien debt holders (which would include Oaktree), according to an audio recording of the hearing. The deal would also resolve many of the back-and-forth legal fights among Claire's, Oaktree and the retailer's other lenders. Oaktree is set to vote in favor of Claire's existing reorganization plan, after months of opposing it and trying to raise the cash to buy Claire's itself.
    • On September 14, 2018, L Brands announced the closure of all 23 stores and the e-commerce site of its upscale Henri Bendel women's apparel banner, which has been open for 123 years. The stores, including the Fifth Avenue flagship as well as smaller-format stores in 11 states, are set to close in January but will have new merchandise for the holidays, according to a company press release. The company estimates that Henri Bendel 2018 revenue will reach $85 million and its operating loss will be $45 million, excluding closing costs, which the company is in the process of determining.
    • On September 13, 2018, it was reported, Brookstone has secured a $56.35 million baseline bid for its assets that will set the floor at a bankruptcy auction slated to take place on Sept. 26. The bid from brand holding company Bluestar Alliance, which owns the bebe, kensie, Tahari and nanette lepore brand properties, among others, would provide $50.5 million in cash and at least $5.9 million in salable inventory, according to a press release from Bluestar. It would also keep at least 50 Brookstone stores open, with a penalty of $400,000 if it opts not to do so or does and then fails to keep at least 30 stores open, Bluestar said. Bluestar's bid won stalking horse status after a back-and-forth bidding war with Authentic Brands Group, which made a play for the baseline bid with a $35 million offer in August. As recently as Sept. 2, ABG had offered $50 million for rights to the baseline bid, according to a court filing from a group of Brookstone's unsecured creditors, who opposed a previous bid from Bluestone in favor of ABG's.
    • On September 11, 2018, it was reported, Walgreens is acquiring pharmacy patient prescription files and pharmacy inventory of 185 Fred's stores located across 10 Southeastern states for $165 million, according to a press release from the companies. Fred's retail operations will remain at most of those locations and the company will continue to operate 162 pharmacies across nearly 600 stores. Pharmacy staff at the closing locations can apply for available positions at Walgreens, the company said. The transaction is part of Fred's previously announced effort "to unlock shareholder value by monetizing non-core assets through strategic transactions," according to the release. The file transfers are expected to begin in the fourth quarter this year and be completed in the first quarter of next year, the companies said.