FORTUNOFF SUITOR?: Fortunoff is up for sale, but considering the depressed state of its business and the housing market in general, the jewelry and housewares chain won’t attract a ton of suitors. One possibility is The Hilco Organization, which invests in, and consults for, retailers, brands and manufacturers and conducts liquidations, such as Circuit City, which is ongoing. Hilco is said to have recently conducted talks with Fortunoff owner NRDC Equity Partners. Both NRDC and Hilco declined comment Friday. Last year when Fortunoff was up for sale, Hilco was bidding but lost out to NRDC, which paid $110 million. NRDC also owns Lord & Taylor and Hudson’s Bay in Canada.
Meanwhile, sources said Fortunoff buyers are on their way to trade shows in Europe, yet it’s hardly business as usual. There’s been consolidations with some back-office functions folded into L&T. Also, plans to roll out Fortunoff jewelry shops inside Lord & Taylor stores were cut midstream. Fortunoff case lines and jewelry were planted in about a dozen L&T stores, and the old jewelry supplied by Finlay was being liquidated. Now L&T is seeking to get Finlay to resume merchandising and operating the jewelry counters. L&T also recently experimented with a 3,000-square-foot Fortunoff gift shop at one L&T unit in New Jersey, which one source described as a very successful test, despite the hard times.