NOW BOARDING: The Hudson Group has signed a deal to acquire the assets related to the operation of Brookstone stores in U.S. airports from Apex Digital Inc.

In addition, through a licensing agreement with Bluestar Alliance LLC, which owns the Brookstone brand and its trademarks, Hudson has obtained the right to be the exclusive airport retailer. The deal will cover 34 airport stores in total. Brookstone has 30 stores across the country in airports and four more are scheduled to open as Brookstone stores in San Francisco, Philadelphia and two in Atlanta. Thirty-three of the stores are in airports where Hudson has existing operations.

This confirms a report in WWD last month. Confirmation of the deal comes amid reports that Amazon is in talks to bring its Amazon Go cashier-free technology to airports, movie theaters and sporting events. In 2017, travelers reportedly spent more than $1.7 billion in U.S. airports at newsstands and travel convenience stores.

Brookstone is known for its eclectic range of merchandise in travel, wellness, home and entertainment. As part of the arrangement, Hudson will be able to sell select Brookstone merchandise in its travel convenience stores.

Bluestar is the owner of the intellectual property assets of many fashion brands that include TahariBebe, Kensie, Michael Bastian and English Laundry, to name a few. Founded by Joseph Gabbay and Ralph Gindi in 2006, the company’s focus is on consumer brands that operate in the areas of wellness, home, travel and entertainment. Bluestar manages a portfolio with retail sales of more than $2.5 billion.

The Hudson Group has shown interest in Brookstone in the past. In August 2018, Brookstone filed for bankruptcy court protection and subsequently closed about 100 mall-based stores as well as outlet stores. In October 2018, BKST Holdings LLC, a designee of Bluestar, and Apex Digital Inc. paid $72 million for Brookstone’s assets, purchasing it out of bankruptcy. As part of the deal, the buyers maintained the majority of its airport retail stores, distribution center and operating team in New Hampshire. Last fall’s winning offer outdid a competing bid submitted at auction by a partnership of ThreeSixty Group and Hudson Group.

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