Clearlake Capital Group was selected as the stalking-horse bidder for the bankrupt Ashley Stewart chain.


The Los Angeles-based private equity firm, also an investor in Bluefly and Swiss Watch International, has offered $18 million for the assets of Ashley Stewart. Its plan is to operate Ashley Stewart as a going concern. It intends to keep the majority of the chain’s existing stores and support the refocused merchandising and e-commerce initiatives by the retailer’s senior management team.

According to bankruptcy court records, the bankrupt retailer is seeking an expedited auction process so it can complete the sale of its assets by the end of April.

Michael Abate, senior vice president of finance, treasurer and secretary of Ashley Stewart, said, “The offer is a resounding endorsement of Ashley Stewart as it restructures its business, and it allows us to continue our relationship with our vendors for many years to come.”

The bid from Clearlake is subject to better offers at a bankruptcy court auction, as well as bankruptcy court approval.

On March 10, the plus-size chain filed a voluntary Chapter 11 petition for bankruptcy court protection in a Newark bankruptcy court. It was the second filing for the Secaucus, N.J.-based specialty retailer. The last time it filed was in September 2010, and it was bought out of bankruptcy by GB Merchant Partners that same year.

At the time of the latest filing last month, the company operated 168 stores across more than 26 states, with plans to shutter 27 underperforming stores while in bankruptcy. The nameplate caters to consumers between ages 25 and 55.