Speculation has been circulating for months that Dubai-based Istithmar was secretly trying to sell Barneys. But get this through your thick skulls, speculators, Barneys is not for sale, David Jackson, chief executive officer of Istithmar, tells WWD. He acknowledged, however, that the chain is in choppy water due to some financial messiness and the lack of a CEO. Last month, we learned a few factors (the financial liaisons in Barneys business deals) stopped approving spring orders. Jackson merely passed off those middlemen as drama queens, explaining they just wanted to get a better picture of Barneys’ overall health before moving forward and calling some of the requests “unwarranted.”
When asked about reports of payment delays, Jackson emphasized Barneys “has met all its obligations” and “continues to pay people.” Also, they don’t plan on closing any stores, not even a Co Op. Interestingly, while Saks and Neiman’s have laid off hundreds of workers, Barneys hasn’t laid off any or announced any major cutbacks. The retailer has been operating without a CEO since Howard Socol resigned almost a year ago. Jackson said they plan to appoint a new CEO by the middle of the year, but retail experts say it’s strange they haven’t appointed someone yet, and that the “lack of leadership has really hurt them.” Evidently! Jackson said no one has made Istithmar — which bought Barneys for $900 million — an offer, for “$1 or $1 billion.” Experts estimate the chain is worth anywhere from $450 million to much less. So they might not be selling it, but Istithmar is still screwed.