By Evan Clark
with contributions from David Moin
 on December 14, 2015

Gilt Groupe Inc. could be close to finding a home at the ultra-acquisitive Hudson’s Bay Co.

The luxury flash-sales site is said to be near a $250 million deal with HBC, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.

HBC officials will hold a board meeting Thursday to discuss Gilt. One official for the retailer who was reached late Monday declined comment on the report. A Gilt spokeswoman declined to comment.

If the deal goes through, the price tag would represent a big comedown for the once-digital darling. Last year, Gilt was believed to be working with Goldman Sachs toward an initial public offering and at its peak had reached the elusive “unicorn” status, being valued at $1 billion.

According to S&P Capital IQ, the eight-year-old company has revenues of about $400 million and about 1,200 employees. General Atlantic, the private equity company that has a stake in Tory Burch, has invested in the company during three rounds, mostly recently giving it $50 million in a February private placement. Other investors include Goldman’s merchant banking division and Partners.

The flash-sales concept had a moment about five years ago when Gilt and others were snapping up excess inventory following the Great Recession and building big businesses.

The business moved from women’s apparel and accessories into men’s wear, travel, home furnishings and food. Kevin Ryan cofounded the firm and led it as chief executive officer from 2010 to 2013, eventually passing the baton off to Michelle Peluso.

Other flash sites have been sold, but not at the megavaluations that once seemed possible. Nordstrom paid $270 million for HauteLook in February 2011, while Groupon last year paid just over $43 million in cash to purchase fashion flash-sale site Ideeli.

It’s not clear exactly where Gilt would fit into the HBC business. The Toronto-based retailer bought Galeria Kaufhof in Germany from Metro AG in a $2.5 billion deal in September, adding to its portfolio that already included Saks Fifth Avenue, Lord & Taylor and its namesake division. The Gilt deal also would represent something of a departure for HBC, which up until now has been focused on brick-and-mortar acquisitions in order to leverage their real estate.

As it grows, Hudson Bay has been reducing costs where possible and pooling resources between its businesses, including on the digital front.

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