Bebe Stores and advisory firm Great American Group have acquired, via a joint venture, the stock and assets of private European fashion retailer Charles Vögele, according to a press release.
The acquisition includes the retailer's remaining store inventory and merchandise, real estate, intellectual property and certain other assets. Administrators overseeing Charles Vögele's insolvency proceedings had approved a restructuring plan last month, which included plans to shutter stores, according to the release.
The move shores up bebe's European operations, which it has done mostly through its partnership with Bluestar Alliance. Bebe and Bluestar also partnered to acquire the remaining operations and assets of Brookstone out of Chapter 11, bebe said late last month.
With money in the bank and little debt, bebe avoided bankruptcy last year by paying its way out of store leases, in contrast to dozens of other retailers since 2016. In May 2017 bebe turned over its intellectual property rights, international wholesale agreements and e-commerce URLs to the joint venture (BB Brand Holdings LLC) it has with brand management company Bluestar Alliance. That restructuring effort was aided by B. Riley & Co., which has since renamed as B. Riley FBR, and which bought a 29% stake in bebe early this year.
Bebe, a brand with a solid reputation for chic fashion, struggled in the years following the departure of creative director Neda Mashouf, who exited after her 2007 divorce from founder Manny Mashouf, who was president and controlling investor at the time and took over as CEO.
Bebe and Bluestar cut a $35 million deal in mid-2016 to develop the brand's wholesale business abroad, though the small improvements weren't enough to save the bebe's stores. This year they again partnered to buy Brookstone out of its second Chapter 11 inside of five years. The acquisition keeps open 30 Brookstone airport stores along with its e-commerce and wholesale business while winding down its mall presence.
Nick Capuano, chairman of bebe stores, said in a statement in October that the investment with Bluestar in Brookstone "represents our combined efforts to create value for bebe stores by expanding the scope of our operations, and we will continue to look for opportunities that leverage our tax assets and create value for our shareholders."
Manny Mashouf told Retail Dive in an October email that he didn't foresee cross-selling between bebe and Brookstone resulting from the investment, but he did note it was part of a strategy of "identifying opportunities that leverage our industry experience to enhance shareholder returns."
The addition of Charles Vögele hews more closely to bebe's apparel focus. "We believe we are uniquely positioned to restore its value and breathe new life into this iconic brand through our deep retail advisory experience and operations management expertise," Tino Bauer, a managing director of Great America's European business, said in a statement.