Woodies, Federated reach final pact


Woodward & Lothrop Inc. finalized an agreement yesterday to sell most of its assets, including department stores in White Marsh, Annapolis and Columbia, to a group led by Federated Department Stores.

Cincinnati-based Federated will acquire 10 of Woodies' 15 department stores, one of its four furniture stores in Bethesda and the lease on Woodies' 285,000-square-foot distribution center in Baltimore, which employs about 320. Also part of the purchase is the John Wanamaker flagship department store in downtown Philadelphia.

Federated, which acquired R. H. Macy & Co. in December, will operate all the stores under the Macy's name.

The final sale price was not released yesterday. But Woodies, which has been operating under bankruptcy protection since January 1994, announced earlier this week that the sale of Woodies' assets, including those not bought by Federated, would generate $640 million.

The remaining pieces of Woodies -- five department stores, three furniture stores and one clearance center -- will be sold in whole or in part.

Of Woodies' estimated 8,200 store employees, "more than half are going to be offered jobs by Federated," said Woodies spokeswoman Sandra Sternberg. For the rest, she said, "We will do everything we can to find opportunities for them," citing contacts in the retail industry and a re-employment assistance program.

After the deal goes through, Federated will enter into a collective bargaining agreement with Local 400 of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, whose members include about 2,800 Woodies store employees. Federated has said that it will also consider hiring employees of Woodies stores that are not being acquired.

In addition to the three Baltimore-area department stores, Federated agreed to acquire four other Woodies stores in Maryland -- Chevy Chase, Lakeforest, Bethesda, Wheaton -- and three in Virginia -- Fairfax, Alexandria and McLean. Excluded from the sale were Woodies department stores in Landover, Hyattsville, Hillcrest Heights, Falls Church, Va., and downtown Washington.

Strawbridge & Clothier of Philadelphia, one of Federated's partners in the buyout group, will acquire five John Wanamaker stores in Pennsylvania. -- Harrisburg, Lehigh Valley, Montgomeryville, Oxford Valley and Wynnewood -- and one in Deptford, N.J.

Another Federated partner, Boscov's Department Stores Inc. of Reading, Pa., will acquire John Wanamaker stores in King of Prussia, Pa., and in Reading.

The deal is subject to bankruptcy court approval in New York and will be submitted next week. The court is expected hold hearings on the purchase agreement in early August.

Copyright © 2019, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad