BCBG Max Azria Group on Friday announced that two of the companies in a stalking horse bid — Marquee Brands and Global Brands Group Holding Ltd. — will buy most of its assets through a Chapter 11 restructuring plan for an undisclosed amount. Marquee will acquire the intellectual property of the flagship BCBG brand and Global Brands will acquire certain assets associated with the operation of the BCBG business, according to a press release.
Global Brands Group is a spin-off of exporter Li & Fung Ltd. that already has a licensing agreement with many BCBG brands. Frye’s, Juicy Couture and Coco-Cola are among its many owned and licensed brands. Global Brands will market, promote, sell and distribute products bearing the BCBG brand name, and will operate the wholesale operations, some retail stores and e-commerce platforms of the brands.
Marquee will leverage its global brand management platform to grow BCBG and related brands into new product categories, distribution channels and geographies, the companies said. The deals are expected to close by July 31.
Of the many recent retail bankruptcies, this turn of events is among the most hopeful — BCBG Max Azria remains a recognizable and respected brand, especially overseas, and these two companies will keep that alive.
Others have not been so lucky. BCBG is just the latest in a series of retailers entering Chapter 11 protection and shuttering stores in recent months. And many — like The Limited Stores, Wet Seal and American Apparel — have buckled under the debt loads of their financial sponsors.
"This is the best possible outcome for customers, vendors, business partners, and our employees who are the lifeblood of the company. BCBG will remain a viable, creative and strong brand going forward across multiple platforms," Marty Staff, BCBG acting interim CEO, said in a statement.
Still, there’s probably some work to do in updating BCBG and some of its designs. Founded in 1989 by Tunisian fashion designer Max Azria (who was also its CEO until last year and recently joined bug-zapping startup ZappLight), BCBG Max Azria Group’s fashion fans once counted the likes of Angelina Jolie, Rachel Bilson, Eva Mendes, Kate Winslet, Victoria Beckham, Alicia Keys and Catherine Zeta-Jones. Azria based his vision and his company name on “bon chic, bon genre," Parisian slang for "good style, good attitude."
But the rise of e-commerce and changing consumer expectations, including new pressures to speed up the supply chain to slake the thirst for “see now, buy now” releases, have taken a toll. Earlier this month, the retailer announced the closure of 120 stores, mostly in the U.S., as well as its freestanding stores in Canada. The company has previously said that it will consolidate operations in Europe and Japan.
BCBG will live on, thanks to this deal, but as brand without a significant store base.