Spiegel Puts Eddie Bauer on the Block

CHICAGO The Spiegel Group, which has been operating under Chapter 11 since filing for bankruptcy in March 2003, said that it plans to sell its entire Eddie Bauer unit, which includes nearly 450 stores, catalog and Internet divisions, and is involved with licensing deals with such companies as Ford and Target.

Spiegel of Downers Grove, Ill., said it has directed Miller Buckfire Lewis Ying & Co. “to solicit parties who may be interested in acquiring its Eddie Bauer business.” Industry analysts said the chain could command as much to $800 million. Spiegel filed for Chap. 11 protection in March 2003.

Intepublic Group’s Mullen in Wenham, Mass., handles the Eddie Bauer account. The brand spent $12 million on ads last year, per TNS Media Intelligence/CMR.

“During the past 12 months we have taken targeted actions to strengthen Eddie Bauer’s financial performance, closing underperforming stores and streamlining the organization, and we are pleased with the profitable financial results,” Bill Kosturos, interim CEO and chief restructuring officer of The Spiegel Group, said in a statement. “We will evaluate the level of interest from potential buyers as we continue to work to develop a plan of reorganization. Based on an analysis of alternatives and negotiations with our creditors’ committee, we believe that the value of the Eddie Bauer business can be best realized by pursuing a sale at this time.”

According to Fabian Mansson, president and chief executive of Eddie Bauer, “As we move through this process, we will remain intensely focused on providing our customers the highest level of service and the versatile, casual products that they expect from Eddie Bauer.”

—Brandweek staff report