Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Neiman Marcus Bergdorf weighs in on Goodman’s potential sale

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Bergdorf Goodman is exploring a potential sale — and one possible outcome is that it moves to a surprising nearby address, The Post has learned.

Sources told The Post that Neiman Marcus, which has owned a Fifth Avenue luxury mecca since 1972, is interviewing bankers, including a possible sale of Bergdorf, to raise cash after it went bankrupt in September.

In a surprising twist, insiders say that among the buyers interested in the 122-year-old department store is Ashkenazi Acquisition Corp — the former landlord of Bergdorf’s now-deceased rival Barneys. That’s because Ashkenazy is on the hunt for tenants at its 660 Madison Avenue, which Barneys vacated after closing its store in December 2019.

According to a source with knowledge of the situation, talks between Neiman and Ashkenazi “have heated up lately”.

A black Barneys banner hangs in front of the store.
Barneys permanently closed its Madison Avenue flagship in December 2019.
AP

Niemann declined to comment on the sale but declined to comment on whether the company has recently held discussions with bankers or potential bidders.

“We have no intention, nor are we looking to sell Bergdorf Goodman at this time,” said a Neiman spokesperson. “We are investing strategically in our business and our brands with the intention of growing and strengthening the company.”

A source close to the company said Neiman is not in “active talks regarding the sale.”

Of course, the Ashkenazi can bid at any auction, which experts estimate could be worth more than $1.5 billion. Insiders say Bergdorf will attract interest from other big names in luxury – most prominent among them Bernard Arnault, the billionaire whose French luxury giant LVMH bought Tiffany & Co earlier this year for $15.8 billion.

Photograph of Bernard Arnault, head of luxury conglomerate LVMH.
Viewers say Bernard Arnault, the billionaire behind French luxury giant LVMH, may be interested in Bergdorf Goodman, is it on the block.
AFP via Getty Images

According to a source close to Neiman Marcus, Arnault has “always been obsessed” with Bergdorf. If LVMH makes an offer, it would like to buy the immovable property from the current landlord, the source said. That’s because the lease for the major women’s store expires in 2050—setting it up for future rent increases like Barney’s doomed.

A third potential bidding block for Bergdorf, which according to sources has already expressed interest, includes WeWork founders Adam Neumann and Sam Ben-Avraham, who bid for Barneys in 2019.

Representatives for Ashkenazy and LVMH did not return requests for comment. Ben-Avraham denied through a spokesman that he had expressed interest in Bergdorf Goodman.

Newman declined to comment.

Insiders said Bergdorf’s sales – which reached $650 million at its peak – fell more than 50 percent during the pandemic. Meanwhile, profitability in EBITDA declined from a peak of $20 million or $120 million in earnings before interest, taxes and amortization.

A source close to the company said, “A buyer will buy in capacity rather than brand performance.” “Because the company is doing so poorly. It’s been a struggle.”

One source said the goal has always been to make Bergdorf a $1 billion dollar business, but efforts to increase digital sales have stalled.

WeWork founder Adam Newman wears a white T-shirt with his arms outstretched.
WeWork’s founder, Adam Newman, may be acquiring Bergdorf Goodman with a partner.
Getty Images for WeWork

A scenario being discussed would include an Ashkenazi takeover joining the group that bought Bergdorf. One advantage of the old Barneys Space, located on the corner of East 60th Street, is that it can have both women’s and men’s departments in the same building, the sources said. Currently, Bergdorf operates on East 58th Street on both sides of Fifth Avenue, with the large women’s store on the west side opposite the men’s store on the east.

Meanwhile, Neiman is raising cash and growing its balance sheet, pulling out two major office leases near its Dallas headquarters and selling its priced artwork, including original 1970s sketches by Halston, Includes photographs and a trove of pieces by the late fashion photographer Bill Cunningham. Collected by Stanley Marcus in the 1960s to 1980s.

In December, Neiman raised $18.2 million from the sale of a large mobile by Alexander Calder at a Sotheby’s auction. Calder was displayed inside a Hudson Yards store that was permanently closed last year.

Neiman refinanced the loan in March, saying it had no borrowings on a $900 million line of credit and that it had $200 million in cash.

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