Bonwit Will Clear Out Goods Outlets Must Be Shut By June 30

Posted: April 06, 1990

Bonwit Teller, where markdowns traditionally have been confined to the Finale Room, is bracing for a going-out-of-business sale at its two Philadelphia-area stores tomorrow.

The stores' parent company, LJ Hooker Corp. Inc., which is operating under bankruptcy court protection, closed all but four of its 16 stores yesterday to

allow employees and a New York liquidating company to prepare for the sale. They will remain shut today, and the store's salespeople this afternoon will get first crack at the merchandise with their employee discounts.

On Wednesday, Hooker said it would close the stores after a U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge in New York allowed the store to sell its name and five stores to a team of bidders including Donald Trump and a Syracuse, N.Y., mall developer.

But the chain's remaining stores, including the Center City store at 17th and Chestnut Streets and one in Jenkintown at the Benjamin Fox Pavilion, failed to attract buyers and will close after their inventory is sold.

Yesterday, at the Center City store, the mannequins were removed from the shop windows.

David McAdam, a spokesman for Hooker, said the decision to close the stores was made late Wednesday night after store officers in New York made arrangements with the liquidating company, BSC Inc. of New York, and store managers.

"This is a very last-minute, very fast deal here," said McAdam. "There's been a lot of midnight oil burned."

Hooker, which said it lost $30 million in the last three years at Bonwit Teller, recently presided over the liquidation of another specialty retailer it owned, B. Altman Co.

Hooker's parent company, Hooker Corp. Ltd. of Sydney, Australia, is in ''provisional liquidation," an Australian proceeding similar to bankruptcy.

McAdam said Bonwit's going-out-of-business sale would continue during normal store hours until the merchandise is gone. He said the court agreement required the stores to be closed by June 30, but he said they probably would close sooner.

During the sale, shoppers can pay for their purchases with Visa, MasterCard or cash, McAdam said. Bonwit Teller credit cards will not be accepted.

He said that the store did not intend to bring in any additional merchandise to sell during the liquidation.

"When we locked the doors," he said, "whatever was in the store will be on sale."

Ross Brightwell, a consultant to the Chestnut Street Association, an organization of businesses on Chestnut Street, said the store's closing would be a loss to the street. He said merchants would try to assure that another high-quality tenant would move into the space being vacated by Bonwit.

"It's very sad," he said. "When you lose a name like Bonwit Teller, it will just reinforce this perception that Center City Philadelphia is on a downward spiral."

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