The parent of Judy's Inc., a Van Nuys-based operator of 102 apparel stores in the Western United States, is negotiating to sell the 46-year-old chain, Judy's president said Friday.
Laws International Holdings Ltd., a Hong Kong textile and clothing store concern that bought Judy's for $31 million in 1989, has held talks the past two weeks with four prospective buyers, said Judy's president, Alan Reed. He declined to identify the suitors.
Laws is selling because "there are other investment opportunities it wants to pursue," Reed said. He declined to discuss Judy's financial results, but acknowledged that the chain has suffered from the same weak sales that are plaguing many retailers nationwide.
Judy's had "a lackluster Christmas," he added.
The company operates 68 Judy's stores for moderately priced, trendy women's wear and 34 GHq outlets for men's apparel. The stores are mostly in shopping malls in California and four other states.
Reed also said that Judy's is planning to close six outlets, but he declined to disclose their locations pending negotiations with the stores' shopping-mall landlords.
When Laws bought the chain, it was struggling in the face of stiff competition from such apparel retailers as Gap Inc., Limited Inc. and Cherokee Inc. In its fiscal year ended Jan. 31, 1989, Judy's earned $352,000 on sales of $57.5 million--one-third the profit it earned four years earlier on lower sales.
Judy's was started in 1946 by Marcia Israel, who with her husband, Lawrence, owned 78% of the company when it was sold to Laws. (The public then owned the rest.) Judy's chief executive until the sale, she remains a consultant.