By Lenore Fedow
A Forever 21 store on New York City’s Fifth Avenue. The Los Angeles-based retailer has found a buyer following its bankruptcy filing in September 2019. (Image courtesy of Forever 21)
Los Angeles—Forever 21 has found a buyer.

The fast fashion retailer reached an $81 million deal to sell its retail business to Authentic Brands Group and mall owners Simon Property Group and Brookfield Property Partners, as per court documents filed Sunday.

Forever 21 filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in Sept., announcing plans to close stores in the U.S. and internationally.

In a statement, Forever 21 said of the sale: “Once approved the agreement will allow Forever 21 to come out of bankruptcy, keeping its headquarters, stores and ecommerce operations open, providing fashions and trends that customers know and love for years to come.”

The Los Angeles-based company’s first international store opened in Canada in 2001.

By 2015, the company had 251 international stores, expanding to 40 countries across five continents.

In a court statement last fall, Chief Restructuring Officer Jonathan Goulding pointed to the company’s swift growth as a factor in its bankruptcy.

“Unfortunately, this rapid international expansion challenged Forever 21’s single supply chain and the styles failed to resonate over time across other continents despite its initial success,” he said.

In its bankruptcy announcement, the company said it planned to close up to 350 stores.

Simon Property Group and Brookfield Property Partners are two of the company’s biggest landlords, reported CNBC, with Simon malls alone housing nearly 100 Forever 21 stores.

The report noted that Simon and fellow mall owner General Growth Properties, now owned by Brookfield, employed a similar strategy of buying tenant businesses headed for bankruptcy in 2016 when they were part of a group that won the auction to keep retailer Aeropostale out of bankruptcy court.

Simon’s malls housed 160 Aeropostale stores while General Growth Properties had 77.

In court, Forever 21 requested approval to name the potential buyers above in a “stalking horse” bid, which occurs when a bankrupt company chooses a bidder to make the first bid in order to set a minimum.

Licensing company Authentic Brands Group also took part in a stalking horse bid for Barneys New York, buying its assets alongside investment bank B. Riley Financial Inc.

Interested parties can submit their bids until Feb. 7 and, if there are bids, an auction will be held Feb. 10.

The retailer is moving quickly, seeking approval of the sale by Feb. 11.

TAGS:   Retail
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