An investment firm wins the auction for Wet Seal

March 17, 2015 11:10 AM

Private equity investment firm Versa Capital Management LLC has agreed to take over financially troubled fashion retailer The Wet Seal Inc. Terms of the bid were not disclosed.

Versa Capital Management says one of its affiliates won the auction for the clothing chain’s business. The auction came just two months after Wet Seal filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The private equity firm plans to seek approval for its asset purchase agreement at a U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware on Wednesday. Wet Seal is No. 416 in the Internet Retailer 2014 Top 500 Guide.

Wet Seal has been struggling online and offline for several years. For example, it sold $31.8 million online in 2013, roughly flat with the $31.3 million it sold in 2010, and down 8.7% from the $34.8 million it sold a year earlier. To invigorate its business, Wet Seal rehired former CEO Edmond Thomas last year. Thomas then oversaw plans to close most of its physical stores and its bankruptcy filing.

Thomas says new ownership offers the retailer the best chance for survival. “Our agreement with Versa provides the best possible outcome for our creditors, employees, customers and other constituents,” he says.

Versa affiliate Vestis Retail Group owns outdoor retailer Eastern Mountain Sports (No. 478). In June, Vestis announced it was acquiring sporting goods retailer Sport Chalet.




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