Syms, Vornado Look for Speedy Filene’s Purchase

Pending court approval, Syms hopes to close acquisition on Filene's this week.

After two bankruptcy auctions stretching over parts of three weeks, Syms Corp. is looking to make quick work of the consummation of its purchase of Filene’s Basement.

This story first appeared in the June 17, 2009 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Secaucus, N.J.-based Syms and Vornado Realty Trust on Monday emerged as the winning bidders for Filene’s with an offer said by sources to be $62.4 million for 23 stores, as well as fixtures and inventory. The bid will be considered at a hearing to be held at 5 p.m. today.

Syms said on Tuesday that, if the bankruptcy court approves the purchase agreement, it would consummate the deal “on or about” Thursday. The company declined to disclose terms of the transaction and hasn’t made known its plans for the branding and merchandising of the Filene’s stores.

In the fiscal year ended Feb. 28, Syms had a net loss of $3.4 million on sales that fell 9.4 percent to $242 million. Cash and cash equivalents were $1.8 million, down from $11.9 million a year earlier. Syms’ 32 off-price stores average about 50,000 square feet and its merchandise mix is dominated by men’s wear (53 percent of sales), followed by women’s wear (29 percent) and footwear (8 percent).

The largest store, in Westbury, N.Y., covers 92,000 square feet. Filene’s Basement units average 31,000 square feet, according to the 2008 annual report of its former parent firm, Retail Ventures Inc.

Crown Acquisitions became the stalking horse bidder for Filene’s upon the store’s bankruptcy filing last month. The Men’s Wearhouse Inc. on June 5 prevailed at the first bankruptcy auction, agreeing to pay about $67 million for 17 to 20 sites. But both Syms and Crown complained court-approved procedures weren’t followed and a second auction was held at which Men’s Wearhouse and Crown joined forces in an unsuccessful effort.