New York department stores may not always be profitable but they come with a strong nostalgia factor and, as a result, valuable intellectual property assets.
When Century 21 department store filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy at the end of 2020, co-founder Sonny Gindi and his family grabbed the intellectual property rights to the store that was known for selling designer brands like Dior. (CHRF) and Givenchy at discounted rates and regular callouts on HBO’s Sex and the City.
A streamlined, renamed “Century 21 NYC” department store is now expected to reopen at the Old Financial District site by the spring of 2023.
The sad history of Barneys New York
The New York department store that experienced a less happy ending is Barneys New York.
First opened on Seventh Avenue and 17th Avenue in New York in 1923, the luxury shopping destination has been loved by the stars and has been around for nearly 100 years.
But it was ultimately done through what some analysts describe as a combination of over-optimistic expansion and the rise of online shopping.
When Barneys New York filed for bankruptcy in August 2019, brand management company Authentic Brands bought the Barneys name for $271.4 million.
At the time of the acquisition, Authentic Brands announced plans to “take advantage of it.” [Barneys’] Internationally, marketing expertise, and a network of best-in-class partners to grow Barneys’ presence as a global luxury retailer and lifestyle brand.”
Authentic Brands also struck a deal in which some Barneys products will be displayed as a “store-in-store” on former department store competitor Saks Fifth Avenue.
Despite a number of behind-the-scenes meetings and the owner hoping to find a buyer trying to keep Barneys as a department store, the store eventually closed its doors while inventory was liquidated in a 275,000-square-foot sale. The location is at 660 Madison Street.
The sell-off went on for a number of weeks and was a harrowing sight of empty floors and clothes scattered in a building that once embody exclusivity and luxury.
Barneys The Beauty Brand
Although there are no signs of a return to 21st century style, Authentic Brands recently announced that it has signed a deal with South Korean lifestyle company Gloent Group for a line of Barneys beauty products.
Slated to be sold online and in some Saks and other pop-up stores, the line will feature a range of cosmetics, skin care, fragrance and hair products.
There isn’t much information on specific products, but an early press photo shows sleek silver-gray tubes and bottles of a gel-cream, hair mask, and hybrid cleanser.
“We are excited to partner with Authentic Brands Group to launch Barneys New York Beauty,” Justin Song, CEO of Gloent Group, said in a statement. “We look forward to continuing Barneys’ rich history of delivering luxury by launching premium beauty and wellness products and waters for the inner and outer health of the next generation.”
Over the past couple of years, Barneys has also become synonymous with the worst kind of department store demise. What was once an empire of high-end luxury is now only found in a few product lines and in the stores of former competitors.
The department store market has certainly been a rocky market over the past few years. While famous names such as Neiman Marcus and JC Penney are facing serious financial problems due to the changing landscape, others are not only staying afloat but confidently moving forward.
Luxury chain Printemps plans to open a store in New York’s Financial District in the spring of 2024.