Younkers stores will close after a judge on Wednesday approved a sale of the retailer’s parent company to liquidators who intend to sell off inventory and then shut the doors.
Stores across the country, including Younkers locations in Nebraska and Iowa, will close by Aug. 31, according to court filings reported by Dow Jones.
Bon-Ton Stores Inc., which owns Younkers, operates more than 250 stores across 23 states. Nearly 25,000 employees will soon be out of work, including more than 350 in Nebraska.
The winning bid for the retailer was about $777 million, Dow Jones reported, citing a person familiar with the matter.
“While we are disappointed by this outcome and tried very hard to identify bidders interested in operating the business as a going concern, we are committed to working constructively with the winning bidder to ensure an orderly wind-down of operations that minimizes the impact of this development on our associates, customers, vendors and the communities we serve,” said Bill Tracy, Bon-Ton’s president and chief executive, in a statement to The World-Herald.
The company said it expects Younkers and its other stores to remain open during going-out-of-business sales.
Another bidder looking to run the company and keep stores open could have stepped in only if the judge denied the sale to the liquidators whose bids ultimately were approved, said Patrick Patino, an attorney specializing in bankruptcies at Omaha’s Koenig Dunne law firm.
Bon-Ton, which filed for bankruptcy in February, operates two Younkers stores in Omaha, at Oak View and Westroads Malls. General Growth Properties of Chicago, which owns both malls, didn’t comment.
A group of investors that included mall owners Namdar Realty Group and Washington Prime Group had signed a letter of intent to bid for the stores and keep them open. The group had requested $500,000 out of the bankruptcy estate for due diligence costs, but the judge denied the request, Patino said. That left only liquidation firms bidding for the company.
Bon-Ton operates other stores in Nebraska and Iowa, including Younkers stores in Lincoln, Grand Island and Sioux City, as well as Herberger’s-branded department stores in Norfolk, Hastings, Kearney, North Platte and Scottsbluff.