Bebe Stores Inc. said it has hired B. Riley & Co. as its financial adviser and that its board is exploring strategic alternatives.
The women’s specialty chain also said “there is no assurance that this process will result in any specific transaction.” The company added that it “does not expect to disclose further developments during this process unless and until the board of directors has approved a specific transaction or otherwise determined that disclosure is appropriate.”
Shares of Bebe closed up 8.1 percent to $3.86 in Nasdaq trading, but then shot up 15.3 percent in early after-hours trading after the company said it was putting itself up for sale.
The company on Tuesday was reportedly set to shutter all stores to stave off a bankruptcy filing. Bebe on Wednesday said it has also hired a real estate adviser to assist with options related to its lease holdings. The chain said earlier this year that it would close 25 stores and outlets.
Bebe in February 2016 underwent a restructuring that saw its chief executive officer Jim Wiggett and chief financial officer Liyuan Woo leave the company. Bebe’s founder Manny Mashouf returned to the company fold as ceo, and Walter Parks rejoined the retailer as president, chief operating officer and interim cfo.
It wasn’t the first time Mashouf has stepped back in a ceo. He returned in as ceo in 2009 after Gregory Scott ended his five-year stint. Steve Birkhold joined the company in 2013, but left a year later and was succeeded by Wiggett. Parks was chief operating officer from September 2006 until May 2013, when he was replaced by Woo.
And last year, in a further sign of financial pressure, Bebe leveraged its brand equity through a new business model via a joint venture with Bluestar Alliance that saw Bebe remain as a public company operating the stores and its e-commerce site. Bebe contributed the brand’s intellectual property to the joint venture, and Bluestar contributed $35 million. The two firms own the joint venture, with half of the royalties going to the joint venture and distributed to Bebe on a quarterly basis.