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The Limited Files for Bankruptcy, But May Live On — Online

Long live TheLimited.com.

The entrance to a Limited store in a Virginia mall. Photo: The Limited

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After closing its stores nationwide and contending with rumors of bankruptcy, The Limited has officially filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

But the iconic mall brand may not be dead yet: WWD reports that private equity firm Sycamore Partners has put a nearly $25.8 million bid on The Limited’s intellectual property, meaning the name itself could live on online. While all the stores were shut down this past week, TheLimited.com is still alive, albeit with a note to visitors: “TheLimited.com is down temporarily. Check back soon. We’ll be back up and running as soon as possible.”

In a letter to investors, The Limited’s owner Sun Capital Partners Inc. said it’s “evaluating strategic alternatives for its e-commerce business,” according to RetailDive.

Screenshot of TheLimited.com

It’s not uncommon for bankruptcy deals to include sales of selective parts of the company, including IP. For example, when American Apparel declared bankruptcy for the second time in November 2016, Gildan ended up acquiring its intellectual property rights and manufacturing operations, but not its retail stores, meaning the American Apparel name could remain even while the stores disappear.

Similarly, after Nasty Gal filed for bankruptcy, UK retailer Boohoo.com made a $20 million bid for its intellectual property, with WWD noting that “the breaking out of the IP assets could be an emerging trend in retail bankruptcies,” letting the brand live on in some form.

But it’s not always a guarantee. When Sports Authority went bankrupt, Dick’s Sporting Goods acquired its intellectual property rights, including SportsAuthority.com. But it essentially wiped the brand name and converted the site, so that SportsAuthority.com now redirects to DicksSportingGoods.com (with a welcoming pop-up note to customers looking for Sports Authority).

So will TheLimited.com carry The Limited name into the future online? There’s a good chance, especially considering its buyer is a private equity firm, not another brand-name retailer that may swallow it whole. Sycamore Partners has also bought up brands like Talbots, Hot Topic, and Coldwater Creek, preserving the brand name and presence in many instances.

But the matter of who will still shop there — a.k.a. the reason The Limited went bankrupt in the first place — remains.


Watch: 2017 Might Be the Year Your Favorite Store Closes