Overstock.com snaps up Bed, Bath & Beyond brand, but not stores, in liquidation sale

The entrance to a Bed Bath & Beyond store is seen in Anchorage, Alaska, on April 23. The chain sought Chapter 11 bankruptcy but will now likely be closed for good.

The entrance to a Bed Bath & Beyond store is seen in Anchorage, Alaska, on April 23. The chain sought Chapter 11 bankruptcy but will now likely be closed for good. (Mark Thiessen, Associated Press)

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SALT LAKE CITY — After seeking Chapter 11 bankruptcy protections in April, the once mighty U.S. retailer Bed, Bath & Beyond is being parsed out in liquidation auctions and Utah online giant Overstock.com looks set to snap up the chain's branding, intellectual property and other assets. But, the brick-and-mortar stores are not part of the deal.

Overstock submitted a low-ball "stalking horse" bid of $21.5 million last week and, according to The Washington Post; Bed Bath & Beyond confirmed on Thursday it had accepted the offer. If approved by a New Jersey bankruptcy court at a hearing next week, Overstock will acquire Bed, Bath & Beyond's brand name, business data and digital assets. Physical stores aren't part of the deal. At its peak, Bed, Bath & Beyond operated over 1,500 stores but, as of early May, was down to around 350 locations.

In response to a Deseret News inquiry, Overstock.com declined to comment pending completion of the deal. Shares of Overstock were up over 17% for the day at the end of regular trading on Thursday.

Bed, Bath & Beyond's value has been on a downward slope since its stock hit a top price of around $81 per share in early 2014. In April of this year, that stock price had declined to just pennies a share. Analysts have pointed to a myriad of missteps by company executives, including a failed shift from third-party products to store-branded goods and a massive stock buyback program.

While Overstock will be looking for ways to leverage Bed, Bath & Beyond's intangible assets on completion of the deal, Bed, Bath & Beyond is seeking a separate path to liquidate its Buy Buy Baby branded division, which includes about 120 stores and is considered the most valuable remaining asset of the company. Buy Buy Baby's assets will be on the auction block next Wednesday, according to CNBC.

Last August, Bed, Bath & Beyond announced it would shutter stores and lay off workers in a bid to turn around its beleaguered business, according to The Associated Press. It closed about 150 of its namesake stores and slashed its workforce by 20%. It estimated those cuts would save $250 million in the company's current fiscal year. It also said in August that it had lined up more than $500 million of new financing.

Mired in a prolonged sales slump, the company also announced back in August that it would revert to its original strategy of focusing on national brands, instead of pushing its own store labels.

That reversed a strategy embraced by its former CEO Mark Tritton, who was ousted last June after less than three years at the helm, per the AP. The company said it would get rid of one-third of its store brands less than a year after rolling them out.

Following a dismal financial report issued in January, Bed Bath & Beyond's current president and CEO, Sue Gove, said the company had struggled to keep ample stock on hand thanks to credit issues with vendors, but even amid the host of grim financial news, at the time she still believed there was a chance to salvage the business.

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