By  on July 27, 2009

Fortunoff could soon be back in business.

The home furnishings and jewelry chain was liquidated last winter by owner NRDC Equity Partners. But last week, the Fortunoff and Mayrock families, who owned and operated Fortunoff for four generations, purchased back all the intellectual property, including the Fortunoff brand name, trademarks, customer lists, software, domain names and copyrighted material for $1.8 million. The deal was with the NRDC-controlled Fortunoff Holdings. NRDC also owns the Hudson’s Bay Trading Co. retail group which includes Lord & Taylor, The Bay and Zellers.

Fortunoff suffered through two bankruptcies, in February 2008 under private equity ownership, and in February 2009, under NRDC ownership.

“When the family sold the Fortunoff company in 2005, we fully expected the brand to continue far into the future,” said David Fortunoff, grandson of the founders. “No one could envision that it would stumble, be sold and then close during the height of a stinging recession. Far more painful to us was the loss of jobs for retail professionals we had worked with for decades. We never imagined the Fortunoff brand name going into freefall when it has served as a retail icon for as long as anyone can remember. It has been a chilling series of events, and we decided to redeem the Fortunoff brand.”

Asked in what form Fortunoff might be resurrected, he replied: “There is an entity comprised of some former [Fortunoff] executives who would like to license the name from us to open outdoor stores. We are open to this type of arrangement.” Still, he noted it is clear retail is suffering from the recession. “Against that backdrop, we intend to proceed with deliberate caution in determining where, when and how we utilize this powerful retail brand as the recession takes its course.”

Said Isidore Mayrock: “We believe that by recapturing the brand, we now have the means to appeal to a loyal consumer base through a variety of retail platforms at an appropriate time.”

Fortunoff was founded in 1922 by Max and Clara Fortunoff with a housewares store on Livonia Avenue in Brooklyn. The Mayrocks are descendants of the founders.

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