In another sign that Gottschalks Inc. is possibly headed toward liquidation, the Fresno retailer is trying to market its individual store locations.
Unloading store sites is often a signal that a retailer is preparing to go out of business.
Although Gottschalks still could survive, the company's real estate consultant, DJM Realty, has released a brochure offering the company's 69 retail locations in six states, including four in greater Sacramento. Most of the sites are leased; a few are owned by Gottschalks.
Gottschalks is operating under Chapter 11 of the bankruptcy code and faces a do-or-die auction for its assets March 30. The DJM brochure notes Gottschalks could be sold as a "going concern," which means the company stays open and the individual leases are pulled back off the market.
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But real estate experts say the DJM effort shows the increasing likelihood that Gottschalks will be liquidated.
"It's just another dark sign -- a very unfortunate dark sign," said Garrick Brown of Colliers International real estate in Sacramento. Colliers isn't involved in the Gottschalks matter.
A consortium of liquidators has been designated as lead bidder, or "stalking horse," in the March 30 auction. Under the rules, anyone outbidding the liquidators would have to pay them a breakup fee of nearly $1 million. That gives the liquidators a leg up on anyone else.
Last week Bloomberg business news reported that three firms have expressed interest in bidding to keep Gottschalks open. They include El Corte Ingles, a Spanish retailer that owns 16% of Gottschalks' stock.
Gottschalks officials couldn't be immediately reached for comment today.