Liquidation sales begin Friday at Robb & Stucky stores

Liquidation sales start today at all 20 Robb & Stucky home furnishings stores in four states as prelude to the shutdown of the 96-year-old Fort Myers chain.

Shoppers may not notice much difference at the once-elegant Robb & Stucky store in International Plaza in Tampa, where a storewide clearance has been running to raise cash since the holidays. Much of the inventory left looked well picked over on Wednesday, with some of it already marked at 65 percent off. All sales are final.

U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Caryl Delano approved the sale of the chain's assets to liquidators Hudson Capital Partners and Hyperams LLC, which bid $30 million to stage going-out-of-business sales expected to partially pay secured creditors owed more than $43 million.

Left in the lurch among $63 million owed to unsecured creditors is about $13 million to customers with gift cards, gift certificates, loyalty reward points and furniture ordered, but not delivered. Attorneys saw no need to curry customer favor if the company was going out of business. Officials suggested that customers can dispute charges with their credit card providers.

Founded in 1915, Robb & Stucky grew into the nation's 34th-largest furniture retailer after Clive Lubner took over in 1979. He expanded beyond Southwest Florida, putting high-end stores that followed migration to the Sun Belt. That included huge stores in the epicenters of the 2007 housing collapse in Florida, Arizona and Las Vegas. Since 2008, Robb & Stucky's annual sales dropped in half to $140 million in 2010. Lubner's son, Dan, has been trying to raise money to revive a shrunken version of the company, which employs 760 people, but missed the bankruptcy auction deadline.

Mark Albright can be reached at albright@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8252.

Liquidation sales begin Friday at Robb & Stucky stores 03/10/11 [Last modified: Thursday, March 10, 2011 10:21pm]

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