With Authentic Brands Group (ABG) emerging as the new owner of Barneys with a $271 million bid in a bankruptcy auction, the storied retail brand will begin a new chapter largely written in licensing royalties rather than merchandise sales. ABG is closing the chain’s seven remaining stores including the New York flagship. ABG has ambitious plans – it is licensing the brand to Saks Fifth Avenue for opening Barneys shops in 40 stores, is weighing new locations in Greenwich, CT and Boston, MA, and will make the brand more widely available for licensed apparel and other products. It also is planning licensed stores for international markets. To be sure, ABG has a good track record in reviving retail brands, both for standalone stores and branded merchandise. For example, in partnership with Simon Property Group and General Growth Properties, it purchased Aeropostale in 2016 and has about 500 stores and a licensing deal for bedding. Another acquisition – Juicy Couture – has 150 stores and licensed products, while its Nine West brand has a women’s apparel DTR with Kohl’s.
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