Forever 21, the fast-fashion mall standby that filed for bankruptcy last year, will live on. Three companies announced Wednesday that they are jointly acquiring the retailer aimed at young shoppers and that they plan to continue to operate its U.S. and international stores.
The buyers are Authentic Brands Group, which owns major brands such as Barneys New York, Aeropostale and Nine West; and real estate companies Simon Property Group and Brookfield Property Partners.
"Forever 21 is a powerful retail brand with incredible consumer reach and a wealth of untapped potential," Jamie Salter, CEO of ABG, said in a statement. Forever 21 currently has 593 stores globally.
The deal is valued at $81.1 million, according to court records, and officially closed on Wednesday. When the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in September, Forever 21 had stated that it planned to reorganize the business and would likely close up to 178 U.S. stores.
But while the company said at the time that it planned to shut down stores in Asia and Europe, the new owners say they hope to expand in "South America, Western and Eastern Europe, China, Southeast Asia, Middle East, and India."
Forever 21 was founded by Korean immigrants in Los Angeles more than 30 years ago and, until now, has described itself as a "family-owned business." It enjoyed rapid expansion in the 2000s but has struggled as mall customers have dwindled. Other companies that were common sights in malls during the 1990s and 2000s such as Wet Seal and American Apparel have faced similar struggles.
"Consumers are not spending like they used to, and that has made things more competitive," NPR's Planet Money recently reported. "And in this more competitive environment, Forever 21 has been losing ground to the new crop of online retailers — companies like boohoo, ASOS, Revolve and Lulus."
ABG and Simon will each own 37.5% of the company's intellectual property and operating businesses, while Brookfield will own 25%. The new owners plan to keep the company's headquarters in LA.
ABG says it plans to seek out young customers "by introducing refreshed creative, targeted digital campaigns, and influential collaborations."
A previous version of this story incorrectly said the acquisition announcement was made on Thursday. It was made Wednesday.