By Lenore Fedow
Accessories retailer Charming Charlie’s New York City flagship on Fifth Avenue. The retailer filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in July, announcing plans to close all 261 locations.
Wilmington, Del.—Accessories chain Charming Charlie may be opening new stores as soon as next year after its founder placed the winning bid for its intellectual property earlier this month.

The assets sold for $1.12 million at auction to CJS Group LP, a Houston-based real estate firm where Charming Charlie’s founder and former CEO Charles Chanaratsopon is the managing partner.

Chanaratsopon told the Houston Chronicle he plans to relaunch the company following its Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing in July, which led to the closure of all 261 of its stores.

Charming Charlie would return as an online-focused retailer, said Chanaratsopon, with a few pop-up shops and permanent locations.

“Charlie has over 10 million passionate and brand-loyal customers,” he told the Chronicle. “In this age of retail, we still see an opportunity for the brand to thrive in the online ecosystem.”

The new stores are expected to open in early 2020 and will be 3,000 to 4,000 square feet, about half the size of its previous stores.

The assets up for sale were Charming Charlie’s trademarks and domain names, including those of brands Charlie Girl and Belle & Bumble, as well as its social media assets.

Customer data was also part of the deal, including a mailing list of 7 million email and 3 million physical addresses, according to data from Hilco Streambank, which assisted with the sale.

The company’s former CEO wasn’t the only one bidding for the brand’s intellectual property.

Nearly 500 interested parties reached out to Hilco Streambank via phone or email about the asset sale, but only five submitted bids ahead of the auction, according to a court statement by Hilco Executive Vice President David Peress.

Three bidders made the final cut for the auction, which lasted 35 rounds with bidding starting at $200,000.

The second-highest bid was $1.1 million from the Cato Corp., a North Carolina-based fashion and accessories retailer.

Peress said Hilco Streambank had tried to establish a “stalking horse” bid—which occurs when a bankrupt company chooses a bidder to make the first bid in order to set a minimum—but was unsuccessful in finding a bidder to do so.

Prolonging the sale process, he said, could have had a negative impact on the value of the assets.

He noted with the retailer’s stores and e-commerce site closed, customer engagement is decreasing, and shoppers soon will turn to other retailers to find what they used to buy from Charming Charlie.

“To reverse this trend, a buyer of the assets will need to invest more in marketing and customer re-acquisition, thereby reducing the amount such buyer can pay for the assets,” Peress said.

The sale requires approval from the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware.

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