Department store chain Neiman Marcus has retained JPMorgan to help it explore its strategic alternatives, including a possible sale of its crown jewel, Bergdorf Goodman, The Post has learned.
A number of parties eyeing the super luxurious Fifth Avenue department store have already signed confidentiality agreements for the right to glimpse at Bergdorf Goodman’s financial statements, sources tell The Post.
The Post first reported on July 2 that Neiman had been weighing a potential sale of the 122-year-old Bergdorf, a high-fashion mecca that some experts estimate could fetch upwards of $1.5 billion.
The strategic review, which sources say could result in the sale of real estate or businesses other than Bergdorf, comes as the Dallas-based Neiman Marcus struggles to get back on its feet after emerging from bankruptcy protection in September.
Neiman’s sales have been rising amid rebounding demand for luxury goods, but revenues are not yet back to pre-pandemic levels, the Wall Street Journal reported last month.
Neiman CEO Geoffroy van Raemdonck, meanwhile, plans to invest more than $500 million over the next three years to refresh stores and improve digital business, he told the Journal.
JPMorgan declined to comment. Neiman declined to address whether it had retained the investment bank, issuing instead a statement that reiterated comments it made following The Post’s first report about a possible Bergdorf sales on July 2.
“We have no intention nor are we looking to sell Bergdorf Goodman at this time,” the company said. “We are strategically investing in our business and our brands with the intention of growing and strengthening the company.”
Among the interested bidders, as The Post has previously reported, is Ashkenazy Acquisition Corp., which owns the 22-story building at 660 Madison Ave., where luxury retailer Barneys was located before it shuttered in 2019 amid rising rents.
Barneys had been the building’s anchor tenant for decades when it shuttered, leaving Ashkenazy with a vacancy problem that was only exacerbated by the pandemic. By buying Bergdorf, it could fill that hole.
The real estate firm, which did not immediately return calls and an email for comment, has signed a confidentiality agreement with Neiman Marcus, sources tell The Post.
Also in the running for Bergdorf is LVMH, whose billionaire chief, Bernard Arnault, has long coveted the super pricey Fifth Avenue department store just south of Central Park, sources said.
The French conglomerate owner of Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior and Fendi has also signed a confidentiality agreement to look at Bergdorf’s books, a source with knowledge of the situation told The Post.
If LVMH made an offer, it could seek to buy the real estate from the current landlord 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, according to sources. There is a smaller men’s store across the street from the flagship.
A spokesperson for LVMH declined to comment for this story.
Bergdorf Goodman remains Neiman’s only presence in New York City since it pulled out of Hudson Yards, where it briefly opened a Neiman Marcus-branded store in 2019 before closing its down for good last year.
Neiman has been cutting costs generally as it continues to struggle with declining sales and strained relationships with some top vendors.
In April, it sold some of the corporate art collection assembled by ex-Chairman Stanley Marcus, including an Alexander Calder mobile that fetched $18.2 million at auction, according to the Dallas Morning News. The company also sold two distribution centers in Texas in March, the publication reported.
Neiman erased some $4 billion in debt in its bankruptcy, but continues to be saddled with about $1.1 billion in loans to private equity owners Davidson Kempner Capital Management, Sixth Street Partners and Pacific Investment Management, which traded their debt for equity in the bankruptcy.
“These are distressed-debt owners and they are focused on monetizing their investment and getting their money back,” one source said of Neiman’s current ownership.