Bluestar Alliance, whose brand portfolio includes Hurley, bebe, Tahari, Brookstone, Limited Too and Nanette Lepore, is now the stalking horse bidder for Ascena's Justice brand, with a $60 million-plus offer that includes $44 million in cash, according to a company press release.
That overtakes last week's $35 million bid from Premier Brands Justice. Any other bids are due Nov. 2, with an auction to take place Nov. 5 at the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, according to a Wednesday court filing.
Ascena also filed more store closures with the court on Wednesday, including 85 Justice locations, 11 Lane Bryant locations and one Loft location, according to additional court documents.
Ascena has been closing a lot of Justice stores as part of its Chapter 11 process, but Bluestar executives say they would open more if they ran the tween apparel banner.
"We offered a bid that we believe speaks to the strong existing connection consumers have to the Justice brand and its future potential," Bluestar CEO Joey Gabbay said in a statement. "We look forward to maximizing the business with both current and new partners, as well as growing the brand to enhance and expand its current footprint."
Bluestar expressed confidence in the brand's strength "both domestically & internationally," and said Justice would "sit perfectly within its existing brand portfolio."
"We have had significant success in the teen, tween & children's markets, and believe the Justice brand will benefit from our existing relationships and sizeable market-share," Bluestar Chief Operating Officer Ralph Gindi said in a statement.