Eddie Bauer moves on without Mansson

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The deal is off, and Fabian Mansson is gone.

At a special meeting of Eddie Bauer stockholders held Feb. 8, an insufficient number voted in favor of approving the company's proposed sale to Eddie B Holding Corp. One day later, Eddie Bauer Holdings Inc. president/CEO and board member Fabian Mansson resigned.

The company said it would continue to operate as a standalone publicly traded entity and its board of directors will evaluate appropriate next steps for the company. Howard Gross, a member of board, has been named interim CEO, while the search for a permanent replacement is conducted. Mr. Gross previously served as president/CEO of Limited Stores and Victoria's Secret Stores.

In November, Eddie B Holding Corp., which is owned by Sun Capital Partners Inc. and Golden Gate Capital, agreed to acquire Eddie Bauer Holdings, Redmond, WA, for $9.25 per share in cash, or about $614 million. Eddie Bauer's board of directors approved the deal. The merchant had only recently become an independent for the first time in 35 years after emerging from Spiegel Inc.'s Chapter 11 reorganization in June 2005.

"Eddie Bauer has probably withstood more problems, redirections, re-strategies, re-management and rearrangements than any other direct marketing company, but it remains a quality property," said Don Libey, president of consultancy Libey Inc., Des Moines, IA, at the time of the announcement of the Sun Capital/Golden Gate acquisition.

Golden Gate and Sun Capital's retail expertise was expected to provide some needed direction to Eddie Bauer.

In January, the company reported that for the fiscal year ended Dec. 30, net merchandise sales declined 4.5 percent totaling $957 million. Comparable stores sales for fiscal 2006 declined 2 percent and sales from the company's direct channel decreased by 4.4 percent.

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