Private equity firm Sycamore Partners has offered to buy key assets of bankrupt Ascena Retail Group, Bloomberg reported on Friday, citing unnamed sources.
The private equity firm is interested in Ann Taylor, Loft and plus-size apparel retailer Lane Bryant, and negotiations are ongoing, sources told Bloomberg. No bid amount was revealed in the report.
Sycamore declined to comment. Ascena and attorneys representing Ascena in bankruptcy court didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.
If Bloomberg's sources are right, Sycamore is expressing interest in the banners that Ascena seemed to be reserving for itself as it prepares to exit bankruptcy a much slimmer company.
The apparel conglomerate was closing stores and selling off or shutting down banners well before it filed for bankruptcy earlier this year. Most recently, while under Chapter 11 protection, the company sold off its Catherines plus banner to plus-apparel conglomerate FullBeauty and announced it would further trim its Justice tween brand's store count.
Just last week, Ascena announced that a federal bankruptcy judge signed off on its disclosure statement, a comprehensive summary of its operations and reorganization plan, seen as a final step toward its next chapter. That so far has included carrying on with Ann Taylor, Loft and Lane Bryant in focus, yet those are the very brands reportedly chased by Sycamore.
Not that the brands have been spared the troubles bedeviling Ascena and apparel retail more widely. In August, when overall third quarter net sales plunged year over year 44.8% to $601.2 million, the company saw net sales fall 45.9% at premium brands Ann Taylor and Loft, 36.7% at the plus brands and 53.1% at Justice.
Sycamore owns several retailers, including Staples, Southern department store Belk and Talbots, and has been rumored to be interested in taking a stake in bankrupt department store J.C. Penney. In the spring, the firm backed out of a February agreement to buy L Brands-owned Victoria's Secret, leading to a tussle in court that ended in the two companies walking away without penalty.