Gottschalks chooses liquidators as preferred buyer

Gottschalks Inc. has chosen a group of companies that specialize in liquidation to buy its assets when the bankrupt company prepares to sell itself at auction at the end of this month.

If the deal goes through, remaining inventory at the Fresno-based retailer's stores could be sold and the stores closed by July 15.

In documents filed with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware, the Fresno-based retail chain revealed a consortium of capital funds as the potential buyer that would conduct a going-out-of-business sale of Gottschalks' merchandise, fixtures and equipment.

The consortium includes SB Capital Group LLC of New York; Tiger Capital Group LLC of Boston; Great American Group LLC of Los Angeles; and Hudson Capital Partners LLC, based in Massachusetts. Each of the companies is involved in liquidations and other "asset disposition" operations, according to Web sites for the firms.

If no better bids surface at the March 30 auction, court documents indicate the liquidation sales at each of Gottschalks' stores would commence as soon as the bankruptcy judge approves the purchase. A court hearing on the auction results is now scheduled for April 1.

Gottschalks, founded in Fresno in 1904, operates 58 department stores and three specialty stores in six western states, the majority of them in California.

Check for updates and read tomorrow's Bee for the complete story.