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Reuters: Bon-Ton, parent co. of Younkers, is going out of business

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Bon-Ton Stores Inc, a bankrupt chain of 200 regional department stores, will go out of business after the only bidders competing at the Monday start of its court-supervised auction were liquidators, according to the news agency Reuters.

Bon-Ton, which filed for bankruptcy in September, had been working with U.S. mall owners Namdar Realty Group and Washington Prime Group Inc (WPG.N) to secure a bid that would have kept open a large portion of Bon-Ton locations. Bon-Ton is a major tenant of both landlords and its survival would have helped protect the value of their malls.

Younkers, a subsidiary of Bon-Ton, is in the process of shuttering its Wausau Center mall location, a move that affected about 60 workers. And earlier this month, the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development was notified that Younkers was likely to close stores in other locations statewide including Marshfield.

The failure of the company, with headquarters in York, Pennsylvania and Milwaukee, comes weeks after Toys ‘R’ Us began liquidating its namesake stores, the latest sign of turmoil in the retail industry.

As of late Monday, the auction had not ended, Reuters reports.

Money raised from the auction will be used to repay what is owed to Bon-Ton’s creditors.

Once the company selects a winning bidder and the proposed deal is approved by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Delaware, the liquidator can begin selling the inventory, store leases, fixtures and intellectual property.

In addition to Younkers, the company’s stores include Carson’s, Elder-Beerman, Bergner’s, Boston Store, and Herberger’s, as well as Bon-Ton.

The company, which traces its roots to 1854, says on its website that it has survived the U.S. Civil War, Great Depression and “profound cultural and technological transformations.”

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