Family Christian Stores, the country's largest chain of Christian book and gift stores, will likely continue to operate if a bid at a private auction by a subsidiary group for the company's assets is approved in bankruptcy court in June.
MLive reports that FC Acquisition, a company owned by Atlanta businessman Richard Jackson who also controls the nonprofit company that owns the Grand Rapids, Michigan-based Family Christian Stores, submitted the highest bid on Wednesday. If approved, FC Acquisition will pay between $42 million and $43.6 million in cash for the company's assets.
Family Christian Store's lawyer, Todd Almassian, said the auction took five days and involved several classes of creditors and "lots of moving parts." He added that the highest bidder has the blessing of the company's consignment vendors, and described their support as being "very meaningful."
The private auction for the company included three other bidders with plans to liquidate the chain's assets. According to the company's lawyer Judge John T. Gregg, the second-highest bidder, Hilco Merchant Resources and Gordon Brothers Retail Partners, reportedly plan to challenge FC Acquisition's bid. Court documents revealed that the company estimated the value of its bid between $54 million and $58 million.
"We strive to serve God in all that we do and trust His guidance in all our decisions, especially this very important one," said Chuck Bengochea, who was named President and CEO of Family Christian Stores in July 2014. "We have carefully and prayerfully considered every option. This action allows us to stay in business and continue to serve our customers, our associates, our vendors and charities around the world."
An earlier report from MLive reveals that Family Christian Stores originally proposed selling the chain at a discount while shedding much of the debt it owed creditors. At the time, the company claimed assets of nearly $75 million and debts of more than $127 million.
However, the company withdrew the bankruptcy proposal several weeks later after debtors criticized its restructuring plan citing "transparency" issues.
The retailer, which claims to operate "in support of Family Christian Ministries' mission partners and has a long history of giving to ministries serving widows and orphans," has more than 266 stores across 36 states and has listed assets and debt of less than $100 million. The company had gross sales of $216 million in 2014.