Hilco Trading LLC, a Northbrook-based liquidator that took part in closing some Circuit City stores last year, is in negotiations to purchase the electronics retailer’s name and operate a Web site under the moniker CircuitCity.com, according to people familiar with the deal.
An agreement to make Hilco the preferred bidder could be reached as early as Friday, according to one person with knowledge of the talks. A bankruptcy court would have to approve the sale.
Circuit City Stores Inc., the nation’s second-biggest consumer electronics retailer, filed for bankruptcy protection from creditors in November with the intent of reorganizing. It failed to find a buyer and began to liquidate its 567 U.S. stores last month.
Retail experts say reviving bankrupt retail names, particularly in the midst of an economic downturn, is an uphill climb. Earlier this week, the Mervyn’s family bought the name and Web site for the bankrupt department store it founded, facing similar skepticism.
“I don’t think the attempts being made to purchase the intellectual property of newly bankrupt and liquidated legacy brick-and-mortar retailers and convert them to online businesses is likely to succeed,” said Mark Cohen, a professor at Columbia University in New York and former CEO of Sears Canada Inc.
Earlier this month, Hilco formed a joint venture with Gordon Brothers Brands LLC to acquire Linens ‘N Things’ intellectual-property assets—from its Web site and bridal and gift registry to its proprietary brands, including Hotel Living and Luxe Versailles.
Hilco is taking part in operating the Linens ‘N Things Web site and hopes to persuade a national retailer to open Linens ‘N Things departments within its stores.
A similar store-within-a-store concept could be in the offing for Circuit City, according to a person familiar with the negotiations.
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