Carlyle, Congress Owners Buy Stores Back

It’s back to the future for the Carlyle and Congress Jewelers chains, as their former owners purchased the company’s intellectual property and some stores at the recent auction of Finlay assets.

Adamas Partners, a group that sources said is spearheaded by Russell Cohen, who formerly headed Carlyle and Co., purchased 14 Carlyle store leases as well as all the fixtures, furniture, and equipment in those stores. It also won the intellectual property of Carlyle & Co. Jewelers, Park Promenade, and J.E. Caldwell & Co., and agreed to enter into a two-year lease, at market rent, for the Carlyle headquarters in Greensboro, N.C.

A spokesman told a North Carolina business journal that Adamas wants to “relaunch” the business.

Meanwhile, S. Congress Fine Jewelers, owned by Scot Congress, the former owner of Congress Jewelers, purchased the lease and fixtures for the L. Congress store in Sanibel, Fla., as well as the L. Congress Jewelers “intellectual property.”

Finlay purchased Carlyle in 2005 and Congress in 2006, in an attempt to build a nationwide chain of high-end stores. The company declared Chapter 11 in August, and had to liquidate a month later.

The moves are similar to what happened with the Fortunoff chain. Members of the company’s founding family bought back the Fortunoff name following its liquidation and have since opened six new Fortunoff stores.

It is still unclear what will happen to the 175-year-old Bailey Banks & Biddle name. A group named Synergies Corp. won BBB intellectual property, beating back a challenge from Zale Corp., which formerly owned BBB.

Helzberg Diamond Shops and Ben Bridge Jewelers, both owned by Berkshire Hathaway, won the Bailey, Banks & Biddle and Carlyle and Co. customer lists.