Bluestar Alliance has signed an agreement to acquire the tween brand, which was put on the selling block by its bankrupt parent, Ascena Retail Group. Bluestar's winning bid at a competitive auction conducted by Ascena was valued at approximately $90 million, and includes the intellectual property, certain related assets and the assumption of certain liabilities.
Ascena, which filed for bankruptcy in July, has closed about 600 of Justice’s 820 stores. The existing Justice stores will remain open through the holiday season, with the wind-down of all locations expected by early 2021, the company said in a release.
During the past year, Ascena has sold off several of its businesses, including Maurices, Dressbarn and, most recently, Catherines. It continues to operate its Ann Taylor, Loft, Lane Bryant and Lou & Grey brands.
"The optimization of our portfolio better positions ascena for long-term success and supports our vision for the future," said Gary Auto, CEO, Ascena. "As we seamlessly transition ownership of Justice over the coming weeks, we remain committed to delivering meaningful experiences for our customers every day
Justice's new owner, Bluestar, is a brand management and marketing company whose brand portfolio includes Hurley, Bebe, Tahari, Brookstone, Limited Too and others. The company’s retail footprint includes more than 250 stores, shop-in-shops and distributors in North America and around the globe.
"Bluestar has continued to grow and strategically build its portfolio," said Joseph Gabbay, CEO, Bluestar Alliance. “Justice is an important asset with years of growth ahead. An icon of tween culture, with its influence felt across fashion, lifestyle, pop-culture and more, we see opportunity for global brand extensions and partnerships."
Bluestar said it will focus on engaging Justice's current demographic and social following as it takes the brand into the future.
"Justice is a brand we know and understand,” said Ralph Gindi, co-Founder of Bluestar Alliance. “We have proven success in this market and the opportunities here are boundless."
A hearing to seek court approval is scheduled for November 12, 2020. The transaction is expected to close before the end of November 2020.