Lord & Taylor in Talks to Purchase Fortunoff

The owner of Lord & Taylor department store chain is close to buying Fortunoff, The New York Times reports.

Citing unnamed sources close to the negotiations, the Times reports that the private equity firm NRDC Equity Partners, Lord & Taylor’s parent, has proposed a $100 million deal that “would marry two of New York’s prominent retailers in what amounts to a rescue operation.”

There have been rumors and media reports that the Fortunoff chain is considering filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

NRDC would place Fortunoff merchandise in all 47 of its Lord & Taylor stores, the Times reports. In addition, there are talks of opening a large Fortunoff boutique within Lord & Taylor’s flagship Fifth Avenue location.

NRDC is owned by Richard A. Baker, his father Robert Baker, Lee Neibart, and Bill Mack. The firm purchased the 182-year-old Lord & Taylor in 2006, which was struggling at the time and staged a comeback of the 182-year chain by adding more than 100 upscale brands.

Fortunoff was founded in 1922 by Max and Clara Fortunoff, who set up a row of eight small stores in Brooklyn that sold everything from kitchen utensils to diamond rings. Today, it operates about 20 stores in New York and New Jersey with annual sales of $450 million. In 2004, the Fortunoff family sold most of its stake to a private equity firm, Trimaran Capital Partners.