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Traub Looking Into Conran’s Future, In Talks With Ethan Allen, Others

NEW YORK -- "It was a high-risk venture from day one," said Marvin Traub, who headed the group that acquired Conran Stores Inc., a home furnishings chain, in late 1992.<BR><BR>Now, 14 months later, Conran's has filed a Chapter 11 petition...

NEW YORK — “It was a high-risk venture from day one,” said Marvin Traub, who headed the group that acquired Conran Stores Inc., a home furnishings chain, in late 1992.

Now, 14 months later, Conran’s has filed a Chapter 11 petition here.

Traub said discussions are ongoing with furniture chain Ethan Allen and others to determine whether Conran’s will be liquidated or salvaged.

But the Conran’s bankruptcy doesn’t appear to be slowing down the former Bloomingdale’s chairman. Traub said his other businesses, including Block Industries men’s wear, Elizabeth Taylor jewelry and his consulting firm were “doing well.” In addition, Traub told WWD he is looking at other business opportunities, though he declined to elaborate.

Concerning Conran’s, Traub said that in the three fiscal years prior to his acquisition, the company had lost a total of $40 million.

“We had expected to lose money in the first 12 to 18 months,” he said Tuesday. “We hired a lot of talented people and operations improved in 1993. But the chain did not meet projections due to the very competitive retail environment and continuing economic decline. “We had some good successes with our domestics and upholstery businesses, but they weren’t enough to sustain it,” In addition to Traub, who owns 45 percent of Conran’s, the investor group includes Lester Gribetz, former Bloomingdale’s vice chairman, and Kenneth Lazar, a financial consultant, who own 27.5 percent each.

The Traub group bought 19 Conran’s stores for an undisclosed amount from London-based Storehouse PLC. It subsequently closed five units.

The company, which has 14 stores trading as Conran’s-Habitat in seven states, listed liabilities at $26.25 million and assets at $32.1 million as of Nov. 27, 1993.