It’s officially the end of barneys as we know it

by Stephen Garner

Authentic Brands Group (ABG) has completed the purchase of the intellectual property of Barneys New York for $271.4 million after weeks of uncertainty of what would become of the iconic luxury retailer.

While the remaining of the retailer’s stores will close as we know them, ABG says it plans to grow Barneys New York’s global presence across retail, including pop-ups, shop-in-shops, e-commerce, and a new freestanding store in a key U.S. market.

As part of this deal, ABG will be joining forces with Saks Fifth Avenue as the exclusive Barneys New York retail and e-commerce partner, for both Barneys.com and BarneysWarehouse.com, in the U.S. and Canada.

The first order of business will be to reboot Barneys New York on the fifth floor of Saks Fifth Avenue’s newly renovated New York City flagship. Barneys New York at Saks is planning to launch as shop-in-shops in key Saks markets in the U.S. and Canada. ABG will partner with the Saks Fifth Avenue management team as the new Barneys New York at Saks rolls out.

There is also a strategy in development for Freds to export the eatery to luxury destinations around the world.

In addition to ABG’s purchase of the Barneys New York IP, its plans following the transition sale include evolving the Madison Avenue location into a pop-up retail experience, bringing together an eclectic curation of boutiques, art and cultural installations and exhibits, and entertainment that fosters creativity and community.

The acquisition will maintain the current licensing agreement between Barneys New York and Seven & I Holdings, which operates 12 Barneys New York retail stores in Japan. The Japan stores will continue operations as usual.

In a press release on Friday, ABG said that as it “welcomes Barneys New York into the fold, it is building a business model that will adapt this legendary brand for the future of experiential luxury.” The company went on to say that it is “committed to preserving the legacy of Barneys New York while positioning it for long term growth through key partnerships that will expand its global presence as a lifestyle brand and luxury retail experience.”

This final deal comes to fruition after a campaign from industry leader Sam Ben-Avraham to save Barneys from closing its doors. In an email to industry insiders, Ben-Avraham wrote, “After two months of working around the clock, my team and I had to make the hardest decision we could have imagined: to pull out of the race and not go to court this morning.”

“This was one of the hardest decisions I have made in my life thus far,” he continued. “My team and I still feel very strongly about Barneys: what it stands for and what it could mean in the future. We believe it has its place in New York’s landscape and beyond.”

Ben-Avraham concluded: “To all the people who believed in the dream and kept us going beyond the imagination. To all Barney’s family members who we met personally and the ones we met virtually and made us feel part of the family in that very short period. I wish I could do more. The stores might be gone but the spirit will live forever. Cheers to the life of Barneys.”

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