Bon-Ton’s back — sort of.
Indiana-based technology and retail investor CSC Generation Holdings Inc. last week received Delaware bankruptcy court approval of its acquisition of Bon-Ton’s trademarks, customer lists and other related intellectual property assets for $900,000. The beauty-related IP assets, including customer lists, went to L’Oréal USA Inc., which paid $312,900.
Over the weekend, the Bon-Ton web site was back up, with a growing selection of merchandise for sale. The sites for the Carson’s, Herberger’s and Boston Store nameplates link back to Bon-Ton’s homepage. The Bon-Ton site said its goal “is to become your favorite retailer by offering” better products, lower payments and more services.
CSC Generation’s homepage said, “We are a decentralized, multibrand technology platform that is saving companies from Amazon.”
CSC said on the site that it is a contrarian investor, and that “we build and buy products that help people save money and time.” Investments include home improvement site DirectBuy and men’s wear brand Killion, which CSC dubs the high-end value brand that’s “Supreme at Zara prices.” The investment firm also owns Leaseco and DirectBuy Leasing. Leaseco touts that its platform makes any product leasable, while DirectBuy Leasing says consumers can “get it now, pay later.”
It wasn’t immediately clear what the business model will be for the new business under CSC, although there are reports that there likely will be select locations — initially in the Milwaukee area — that would reopen just from Thursday to Sunday, and that perhaps consumers eventually would be able to participate in a lease-to-own plan. There’s also the possibility that the new Bon-Ton would include a bigger service component, such as personal stylists and interior designers, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Given CSC’s ownership of Leaseco and DirectBuy Leasing, the investment firm could likely leverage those platforms as credit and leasing options for its Bon-Ton customers.
For now, all of retailer’s stores for all nameplates operating under its corporate umbrella were shuttered last month, following the completion of the bankrupt firm’s going-out-of-business liquidation sales. The retailer filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy court protection in February.
The Bon-Ton site now online lists hundreds of brand available. In reality, there’s far less actually available for sale as CSC works on ramping up inventory levels. The brand list on the site include 10 Crosby Derek Lam, Adam Lippes, Fenty x Puma, Hermès and Louis Vuitton, although there were no products yet from those firms. Brands that did offer product on the relaunched Bon-Ton site include: ABS by Allen B. Schwartz, AG Jeans, Armani Exchange, Ben Sherman, Brioni, Brooks Brothers, Givenchy, Heidi Klum, Hudson Jeans, Josie Natori, Kooba, Lauren Ralph Lauren, Michael Bastian, Michael Kors and Milly.
The majority of the brands were discounted, some heavily so. And some brands, such as Mulberry, only had one item on the site, also discounted. That suggested that perhaps the site — at least, for now — might be serving as a gateway for brands to sell merchandise that would ordinarily have been on the clearance rack had it been a brick-and-mortar location.
There isn’t any category offering for beauty on the Bon-Ton site, although a mouse-click on a few beauty firms on the brand list indicated one item for BareMinerals, one for EltaMD and several for the Laura Mercier brand. All listings were available at discounted prices.