Although Brookstone initially announced that it had been purchased by Bluestar Alliance and Apex Digital in October after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in August, another unlikely party has unveiled its role in the deal. Women’s apparel retailer bebe stores partnered with Bluestar and Apex to acquire the Brookstone brand and related assets.
On the surface, bebe and Brookstone don’t seem like companies that complement each other’s businesses. While bebe is known for selling dresses, jumpsuits and tops, Brookstone is a specialty retailer that sells unique gadgets and gift items such as personal massagers, pillows, headphones and speakers.
But Bluestar Alliance, a private equity firm that invests in consumer brands and licensed brands, appears to be the driving force behind the deal. Bluestar formed a joint venture with bebe in 2016, taking control of the retailer’s trademarks and related IP assets. Bluestar sees an opportunity to expand the wholesale distribution of Brookstone products to larger U.S. retailers. London Luxury, a manufacturer and wholesaler of bedding, home textile and memory foam, is Brookstone’s first new licensee under the deal.
Upon filing for bankruptcy, Brookstone shuttered its 101 mall-based locations, and lined up a $30 million loan to keep the doors open at the 30 remaining airport stores while the bankruptcy proceeded.
As part of the acquisition, Apex Digital will operate the airport stores as well as Brookstone.com.