Bon-Ton assets to be bought, liquidated with stores closing

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(FEBRUARY 5, 2018) Bon-Ton, the parent company of Herberger's department store, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Bon-Ton had been working with property owners Washington Prime Group and Namdar Realty Group to buy the company out of bankruptcy and continue operating some of the stores.

The impending loss of the 254-store chain, based in York and in Milwaukee, Wis., will be felt especially hard in Pennsylvania, where the department store was founded more than 160 years and where it still has a corporate presence and large retail footprint.

Muscatine Mall and Younkers managers have also deferred comments to Bon-Ton, claiming they have not been provided with information about a potential closure.

That group would have kept some local stores and a distribution center open.

Hoprich said some prospects have already express interest in filling the approximate 155,000 square of space that Bon-Ton occupied. However, neither of the groups bid at the auction Monday, reports said.

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Sotelo said it's possible that a buyer interested in running all or some of the stores could still emerge on the heels of the auction.

"I don't think there are too many willing investors in brick and mortar stores now".

Mitch Nolen, a national retail and bankruptcy reporter who has been a contributor to Seeking Alpha, obtained a letter from Bon-Ton's CEO to employees. The Bon-Ton location in Nittany Mall announced its intention to close in January, but a definitive date has not yet been announced.

Bon-Ton has 250 stores, which includes nine furniture galleries, in 23 states in the Northeast, Midwest and upper Great Plains under the Bon-Ton, Bergner's, Boston Store, Carson's, Elder-Beerman, Herberger's and Younkers names. The shutdown will bring up huge loss of employment opportunites.

Berry said the mall has recently seen the opening of the Slumberland in the former JC Penney space, as well as Sidell's Bakery & Diner, as part of Cullinan Kickstart program. "Bergner's has been a staple here for a long time and it would be a big loss". A hearing is set for Wednesday.

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