Chain to Liquidate

Friedman’s Jewelers, an 80-year-old company that once was the third-largest jewelry chain in America, is liquidating the majority of its stores. The company is also selling 78 of its stores to WFC Acquisition Corp., an affiliate of Whitehall Jewelers.

Friedman’s filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in January, after three vendors tried to force it into Chapter 7, which governs liquidation. Court papers say that, when Friedman’s was “not satisfied” with the results of a March 6 auction, it entered negotiations with WFC, then the highest bidder. Those negotiations, however, did not produce a “satisfactory” agreement and were terminated March 25.

Court papers also say Friedman’s determined that the “best way to maximize the value of their remaining assets … is to close their stores over the next several months.”

When it filed for Chapter 11, Friedman’s operated 388 stores in 19 states and employed 2,890 people. Its Crescent subsidiary operated 85 stores in three states and had over 600 employees.

The company will sell inventory valued at approximately $400 million below market prices in a sale that’s expected to last approximately 10 to 12 weeks. Merchandise to be sold will include women’s and men’s fine and fashion jewelry, featuring diamonds, other precious stones, gold, and silver as well as a wide selection of watches.

The Friedman’s sale is being managed by a consulting group consisting of three leading national retail liquidation and asset recovery firms: Great American Group LLC, Hudson Capital Partners LLC, and Silverman Jeweler Consultants Inc.

“We would like to express our appreciation to all of the Friedman employees who have invested considerable time and effort into building this fine jewelry chain,” said Harvey Yellen, chairman of Great American Group. “It is unfortunate that Friedman’s has to be liquidated after all of these years, and we will work with the employees and personnel to ensure a smooth process.”

Officials from Friedman’s did not respond to requests for comment.