Lifestyle

Neiman Marcus weighs possible sale of Bergdorf Goodman

Bergdorf Goodman is exploring a potential sale — and one possible outcome is that it moves to a surprising address nearby, The Post has learned.

Neiman Marcus, which has owned the storied Fifth Avenue luxury mecca since 1972, has been interviewing bankers, including for a possible sale, in a bid to raise cash after emerging from bankruptcy in September, sources told The Post.

In a surprise twist, insiders say that among the interested buyers in the 122-year-old department store is Ashkenazy Acquisition Corp. — the former landlord of Bergdorf’s now-deceased luxury rival Barneys. That’s because Ashkenazy is on the prowl for tenants at its 660 Madison Ave., which Barneys vacated when it liquidated its stores in December 2019.

Talks between Neiman and Ashkenazy have “recently heated up,” according to a source with knowledge of the situation.

A black Barneys banner hanging in front of the stor.
Barneys closed its Madison Avenue flagship permanently in December 2019.
AP

Neiman denied a sale but declined to comment on whether the company has recently held discussions with bankers or prospective bidders.

“We have no intention nor are we looking to sell Bergdorf Goodman at this time,” a Neiman spokesperson said. “We are strategically investing in our business and our brands with the intention of growing and strengthening the company.”

A source close to the company added that Neiman is not in “active conversations regarding a sale.”

Of course, Ashkenazy could get outbid in any auction, which experts predict could fetch upwards of $1.5 billion. Insiders say Bergdorf would likely attract interest from other big names in luxury — foremost among them Bernard Arnault, the billionaire whose French luxury giant LVMH scooped up Tiffany & Co. earlier this year for $15.8 billion.

Photo of Bernard Arnault, head of luxury conglomerate LVMH.
Watchers say Bernard Arnault, the billionaire behind French luxury giant LVMH, might be interested in Bergdorf Goodman is it goes on the block.
AFP via Getty Images

Arnault has “always been obsessed” with Bergdorf, according to a source close to Neiman Marcus. If LVMH made an offer, it would likely want to buy the real estate from the current landlord, the source added. That’s because the lease for the flagship women’s store expires in 2050 — setting it up for a future rent hike like the one that doomed Barneys.

A third prospective bidding bloc for Bergdorf, which according to sources already has expressed interest, consists of WeWork founder Adam Neumann and Sam Ben-Avraham, who had bid for Barneys in 2019. 

Reps for Ashkenazy and LVMH didn’t return a request for comment. Ben-Avraham through a spokesperson denied that he has expressed interest in Bergdorf Goodman.

Neumann declined to comment.

Insiders said Bergdorf’s sales — which reached $650 million at their peak — plunged more than 50 percent during the pandemic. Profitability, meanwhile, has tumbled to $20 million in Ebitda, or earnings before interest, taxes and amortization, from a peak of $120 million.

“A buyer will be buying into the potential rather than the performance of the brand,” one source close to the company said. “Because the company is doing so poorly. It’s been a struggle.”

The goal has always been to make Bergdorf a $1 billion dollar business, a source said, but efforts to beef up digital sales have stalled. 

WeWork founder Adam Neumann wearing a white t-shirt with his arms outstretched.
WeWork founder, Adam Neumann, may acquire Bergdorf Goodman with a partner.
Getty Images for WeWork

One scenario being discussed would involve Ashkenazy Acquisition joining a group that purchases Bergdorf. An advantage of the old Barneys space, located at the corner of East 60th Street, is that it could house both the women’s and men’s departments in a single building, sources noted. Currently, Bergdorf does business on both sides of Fifth Avenue at East 58th Street, with the bigger women’s store on the west side opposite the men’s shop on the east.

In the meantime, Neiman has been raising cash and shoring up its balance sheet, exiting two major office leases near its Dallas headquarters and selling pricey artwork it owns, including original 1970s sketches by Halston, photos by late fashion photographer Bill Cunningham and a trove pieces collected by Stanley Marcus in the 1960s through the 1980s.

In December, Neiman reaped $18.2 million from the sale of a large mobile by Alexander Calder at a Sotheby’s auction. The Calder had been displayed inside the Hudson Yards store that closed permanently last year.

Neiman also refinanced debt in March, saying it had no borrowings on a $900 million credit line and had $200 million in cash.