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The Wiz Sold To Liquidator

3/10/2003 09:06:00 AM Eastern

Bethpage, N.Y. - Beleaguered N.Y. metro area CE chain The Wiz has been sold to a unit of Gordon Brothers Group, a leading retail liquidator, which began storewide sales over the weekend.

No purchase price was disclosed for the stock sale transaction.

Corporate parent Cablevision Systems Corp. said the buyer, GBO Electronics Acquisition, LLC, has assumed substantially all of The Wiz's assets, including inventory and real estate, as well as its liabilities and obligations.

A Cablevision spokesperson declined to provide further terms of the deal, although the company said in statement, "Consumers should look for information regarding liquidation sales in their local newspapers and through other media."

Apparently GBO is wasting no time. Storewide sales offering 10 percent off all merchandise commenced this weekend, as personnel began stacking boxes of discounted goods on store floors.

According to a sales associate at a Manhattan location, the liquidation sale is expected to last three weeks. GBO did not return calls at press time to provide further details.

Boston-based Gordon Brothers specializes in inventory closeouts and real estate dispositions, having converted $11.7 billion of retail assets into cash, sold $3 billion of unwanted lease obligations, managed more than 3,500 stores and conducted over $53 billion of appraisals in the last three years alone.

Its DJM Asset Management unit, headquartered near Cablevision in Melville, N.Y., has helped sell, sublease and dispose of stores for retailers including Sears, Heilig-Meyers, Tower Records and Zany Brainy, and assisted Cablevision during its first round of Wiz store closings last fall.

Cablevision bought the retailer, then called Nobody Beats the Wiz, from the founding Jemal family in a bankruptcy sale for a reported $80 million in 1998.

Chairman Charles Dolan saw The Wiz as the perfect platform from which to sell the company's various services - including TV and Internet cable subscriptions - together with the CE hardware with which to use them. But despite its best efforts, which included multiple management teams, store redesigns and image ad campaigns, the entertainment and cable conglomerate could not realize Dolan's vision.

After five years and close to $500 million in red ink, Cablevision closed 26 of 43 stores last fall and announced in February that it would sell or shut the remaining 17 units by June.

Gordon Brothers did not disclose its liquidation timetable nor plans for selling off the storefronts, which would end The Wiz's 27-year ride and close another chapter in New York CE retailing.

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