Barneys for Sale…Again?

January 23, 2009 • Runway/Realway

Barneys Window 015

Even through the economic turmoil, Barneys New York, has managed to keep a low profile under the cloak of private
ownership — until now. The luxury chain is said to be up for sale again and close to naming a new chief executive officer.

WWD has discovered a ceo has finally been selected (after months and months of searching) and might need to fulfill
obligations on another job before officially joining Barneys. The
identity of the individual could not be learned.

David Jackson, ceo of Barneys owner Istithmar, would not comment on whether the chain is for sale or that it’s found a new ceo.

both objectives would be a feat for Barneys for several reasons. The
deteriorating economy has decimated the luxury sector — both Saks Inc.
and Neiman Marcus Inc. have been saddled with excess inventories and
double-digit sales declines — and has dried up the market for mergers
and acquisitions.

“Barneys New York’s taste level
has not been widely accepted elsewhere, as they built stores across the
country,” said Joyce Greenberg, an investment banker, formerly with
Financo Inc. “The market for Barneys merchandise does not appear to be
as broad as originally anticipated.”

Barneys for anywhere near its purchase price of two years ago would
seem almost impossible at this point. Jones acquired Barneys from
Whippoorwill Associates Inc. and Bay Harbor Management in 2004 for
$397.5 million.

U.S. luxury retail executives are not likely candidates
for Barneys since most would have non-compete clauses in their
contracts, eliminating such individuals as Saks Fifth Avenue’s Ron
Frasch, Jim Gold of Bergdorf Goodman or Karen Katz of the Neiman Marcus
stores. On the international front, names that have surfaced are
Vittoria Radice of La Rinascente; Mark Lee, formerly of Gucci; Caryn
Lerner of Holt Renfrew, and former Topshop chief Jane Shepherdson.
Barneys also could choose an individual from outside the retail sector.

Source: WWD

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