NRDC Equity Partners, the parent of Lord & Taylor and Creative Design Studio, has entered into an agreement to purchase Fortunoff for $110 million.


Meanwhile, Fortunoff was expected to electronically file a 363 bankruptcy proceeding Sunday night, making the purchase agreement possible.


The deal for the jewelry and housewares chain includes an $80 million purchase price, plus $30 million in other obligations such as gift cards, employee benefits and debt. The company is being purchased from Trimaran Capital Partners, an equity group that along with K Group, another private equity firm, bought Fortunoff in 2004.


NRDC has made a $10 million letter of credit available to Fortunoff to help purchase inventory.


“We’re very much coming in as a white knight,” Richard Baker, president and chief executive officer of NRDC, told WWD. “If we weren¹t here, the whole thing could get liquidated. But the business is not bad off. It just has a liquidity crisis. Fortunoff is a very strong business that with synergies with Lord & Taylor will create a lot of value in a very short period of time.”


The purchase agreement with Trimaran Capital Partners is expected to close in early March, though there is a window of opportunity for competing offers. No store closings are planned for Fortunoff, which operates a total of  20 locations in New York and New Jersey.


Baker intends to create Fortunoff jewelry departments and home stores with bridal registries in the 47 Lord & Taylor stores. “These will get rolled out in an expeditious manner, within the next 12 months,” Baker said.

For full coverage, see Monday’s issue of WWD.