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Liquidation firms win bid for Bon-Ton

19 April 2018

Bon-Ton Stores Inc.is reaching its final days, as the department store chain announced it will be closing more than 200 stores as part of a deal to liquidate its remaining assets.

"While we are disappointed by this outcome and tried very hard to identify bidders interested in operating the business as a going concern", said Bill Tracy, Bon-Ton's president and chief executive.

A statement on the Bon-Ton website said, "Bon-Ton will move forward in a constructive manner to ensure an orderly wind-down of operations that minimizes the impact of this (auction) development on our associates, customers, vendors and the communities we serve".

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More details on the liquidation and going-out-of business sales at stores will be released following bankruptcy court approval of the liquidation.

Editor's note: The Associated Press contributed to this article.

The announcement, while somewhat anticipated after two liquidators were the only bidders in bankruptcy court on Monday, confirms the end of a company with stores founded as early as the 1850s and further alters the ever-changing retail landscape.

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According to Bon-Ton's WARN (Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification) notice filed with the Iowa Workforce Development, it plans to lay off a total of 635 workers at seven of its Iowa stores as of June 5.

Bon-Ton operates several stores in Nebraska, including Younkers stores in Lincoln, Grand Island and Omaha, as well as Herberger's-branded department stores in Norfolk, Hastings, Kearney, North Platte and Scottsbluff.

In November, the firm announced shortly before Black Friday that it would close around 40 stores. The company said it was in the process of finalizing a purchase agreement with the prospective buyers ahead of the auction, but the investment group never put in a bid. It initially planned to close only about 40 locations. The news comes just weeks after Toys R Us started closing its more than 800 stores across the USA, building on industry-wide turmoil. Decisions regarding our store portfolio will continue to be made based on what makes the best sense for our business just as they always have. We are now engaged in constructive discussions with potential investors and our debtholders on a financial restructuring plan, and the actions we are taking are meant to give us additional time and financial flexibility to evaluate options for our business. The 160-year-old company had filed bankruptcy in January, but had held out hope that it could be sold to a private equity group that would continue to operate its 260 stores, including the one at Northland Mall in Sterling.

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Liquidation firms win bid for Bon-Ton