Phoenix, a WHP Global-led joint venture (JV), has received approval from a US bankruptcy court in Delaware to take over fashion retailer Express

The new retail operating JV was formed with affiliates of the Simon Property Group, Brookfield Properties and Centennial Real Estate. 

The newly formed JV aims to serve as a financially revitalised direct-to-consumer (DTC) retail platform, laying the foundation for the long-term growth of the Express and Bonobos brands.  

Phoenix’s focus will be on strengthening the core operations of these two brands, which will further maintain the continuity of e-commerce operations and their more than 450 physical stores, as well as save 7,000 jobs across the nation. 

The deal is expected to close in June 2024.

Upon completion, Phoenix will be able to operate all DTC commerce across the US in place of Express and Bonobos. 

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WHP Global CEO and chairman Yehuda Shmidman said: “Today’s court approval and the formation of PHOENIX marks a vital step in our mission to save Express and continue serving millions of customers who love the Express and Bonobos brands.  

“With the restructuring actions accomplished during the Chapter 11 process, we believe Express is now well-positioned for a powerful path forward, benefiting all stakeholders, including our valued vendor partners, licensees, landlords and dedicated team.” 

A Bloomberg report, citing court documents, highlighted that the offer price for the acquisition includes $136m in cash and $38m in liabilities to be assumed by the buyers. 

In April 2024, Express and its subsidiaries filed voluntary Chapter 11 petitions in the US Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware.  

The retailer had received a non-binding letter of intent from a consortium led by WHP Global, indicating a potential sale of a substantial majority of Express’ retail stores and operations.  

Express’ portfolio includes brands such as EXPRESS, menswear brand Bonobos, and apparel, accessories and home goods brand UpWest, operating an omnichannel platform alongside physical and online stores.