BARNEYS TAPS SHULL TO HELP RESTRUCTURE
NEW YORK — Barneys Inc. has a new adviser to help pump up productivity and margins, at least until the chain emerges from bankruptcy.
He’s Thomas Shull, a retail restructuring expert, who on Friday was named president and chief operating officer in charge of the day-to-day operations. The announcement confirmed a WWD report Friday that he was joining the company. The appointment is subject to bankruptcy court approval.
Gene and Robert Pressman continue as co-chief executives.
Shull will report to the executive committee, consisting of Phyllis, Gene and Robert Pressman. Shull has also joined the committee.
“Barneys is a world-class retailer with a great merchandising vision,” Shull said. He succeeds John Brincko, who resigned last month.
Bank lenders and creditors have insisted that Barneys have additional management to help steer the company while it is in bankruptcy. Shull’s contract with Barneys enables him to work at the chain until a plan of reorganization is confirmed by bankruptcy court, which is not likely to happen until next year.
Dickson Concepts, the Hong Kong retailer, has signed a preliminary agreement to acquire Barneys for $247 million, which will fund a reorganization plan. Tuesday is the deadline for signing a definitive agreement, but an extension is expected. There have already been several extensions since the deal was announced Aug. 3.
A source said a hearing on setting a “break-up” fee of up to $8.5 million is set for Thursday. The fee would go to Dickson in the event another party makes a bid that overtakes Dickson’s.
The constituents in the Barneys bankruptcy have also agreed to postpone for one month a hearing on Barneys’ request to extend its sole right to file a plan of reorganization, or “exclusivity.” The hearing, set for Oct. 9, was scheduled for Sept. 9. Barneys has requested an extension of exclusivity to Dec. 2.
Due to the negotiations involving Barneys’ search to find a buyer, Barneys, the creditors’ committee and Isetan originally agreed to an interim extension until Sept. 16. With the adjournment of the hearing date, the interim extension was also moved back until Oct. 10.
Shull has been chief executive of Meridian Ventures, a Hilton Head, S.C.-based retail venture management and turnaround firm that he co-founded. He also has extensive involvement in retail turnaround situations, serving as executive vice president of R.H. Macy & Co., and the point man in that chain’s Chapter 11 proceedings. Macy’s was eventually acquired by Federated Department Stores. After Macy’s, Shull was acting ceo of Merry-Go-Round during that chain’s bankruptcy. MGR was eventually liquidated.
In addition, he served as a senior consultant at McKinsey & Co. and as a White House assistant to Robert McFarlane, a former national security adviser.