Central Valley

Gottschalks gets extension on auction sale

Gottschalks Inc.'s deadline for finding a buyer or liquidating has been extended to March 30.

The original date was March 17. The delay was granted today by a U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge in Wilmington, Del., where the Fresno-based retailer's Chapter 11 case is being considered.

In a statement this afternoon, officials said the postponement allows more time to negotiate with would-be bidders for the company, which operates 58 department stores, including one in Merced. "The company remains in active discussions with multiple potential buyers and continues normal business operations in its stores," the company reported.

"We are pleased the court has extended the auction date, and we continue to negotiate in good faith with potential buyers to keep Gottschalks as a going concern."

Under Gottschalks' original auction timeline submitted to the court, the company had proposed to select a preferred bidder by Monday and hold an auction March 19 at which other buyers could submit competing bids, either to purchase the company or to liquidate its assets.

Gottschalks, which like many retailers has been hurt by a flagging economy, declining sales and financial losses, filed for bankruptcy in mid-January.