Boscov’s Inc. appeared to clear the final hurdle in its battle to emerge from Chapter 11 in family hands Tuesday night when freeholders in Atlantic County, N.J., voted 7 to 2 in favor of guaranteeing $1 million under the federal government’s Section 108 loan program.
Boscov’s needed Atlantic County to cap the $300 million package of government loans and private equity required to seal emergence from Chapter 11 bankruptcy. That was backed since December by a combined $200 million credit line from Bank of America, Wells Fargo, GE Finance and CIT. It also includes $53 million from the Boscov and Lakin families and $35 million from the state of Pennsylvania, where Boscov employs 5,000 out of a total of about 9,000.
“A lot of people thought it was writing a check [from county funds] and that’s not the case,” said Alisa Cooper, a yes vote, since Section 108 supports housing rehabilitation along with job creation and retention. “It was a long, involved process but, all things considered, it’s the right thing to do.”
Albert Boscov, chairman of the 39-store department store chain based in Reading, Pa., came out of retirement to rescue the chain started by his grandfather along with Edward Lakin, president. “This completes what we needed for the banks,” Boscov said. “We reached our goal of $110 million….This gives us financial stability.”
He told WWD that ensuring a profitable year was of paramount importance, but noted 99 percent of suppliers were shipping the store on regular terms and shelves are fully stocked.
“We’re doing far better than anyone else and are one of the few who are making it,” he said.
The vote this week amends the county’s Community Development Block Grant. Preliminary approval was received in June.
Boscov’s filed Chapter 11 last August. A family group agreed to buy its assets in November.
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