By  on March 3, 2008

Low price point specialty apparel retailer Steve & Barry's got a $197 million asset-based loan from GE Commercial Finance Corporate Lending, which will be used for "ongoing capital needs."

This is the first loan from GE to the retailer, and marks a loosening of the credit market as borrowers seek out better terms in a lower-interest environment.

"With specialists in retail, GE quickly understood our growth plans and structured a loan tailored to meet our working capital needs," said Barry Prevor, co-founder and co-chief executive officer of Steve & Barry's. "GE's access to capital and ability to make significant commitments also helped accelerate the financing process."

The retailer has over 250 stores in 40 states. Last November, during the WWD/DNR CEO Summit, Andy Todd, the retailer's president, said the company is "looking to expand a lot....[We] will expand our footprint throughout the U.S. and beyond in the near future. And we expect to have many more lifestyle brands at Steve & Barry's in the coming years."

The retailer has recently tapped Sarah Jessica Parker and Venus Williams to tout its brand.

"The team [at Steve & Barry's] knows how to grow the business, introduce product and get things going," said Jim Hogan, managing director of GE Corporate Lending's Retail Group.

While GE's corporate lending retail group lends against assets and looks mostly to strength in reporting systems to gauge inventory and related collateral, Hogan described the retail management team criteria for any potential deal as "just shy of crucial." What impressed Hogan and his department was how Steve & Barry's was able to secure great locations.

"They have great relationships with the guys who run the malls. The team [at Steve & Barry's] is nimble and savvy and they've cut some great deals for themselves," Hogan said.

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