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Retailers, consumers and prices

Check Out Line: Ron Burkle invests in yet another challenged company

June 25, 2010

AmericanApparelCheck out Ron Burkle’s continued affinity for companies in trouble.

The supermarket magnate has taken a 6 percent stake in American Apparel, according to a regulatory filing on Thursday. That’s the billionaire’s latest investment in iconic companies that just can’t seem to get back on track. 

The apparel maker and retailer, founded and run by the colorful, often scandalous Dov Charney, came close to tripping a loan covenant with its creditors but reached a deal yesterday, averting disaster.

Burkle has also upped his stake in Barnes & Noble, whose sales are still trending downward despite the popularity of its Nook e-reader, in recent months and is battling with the Riggio family for control of the bookseller. He owns nearly 20 percent of Barnes & Noble and fought, unsuccessfully so far, to double his take without triggering a poison pill. Tuesday’s annual shareholder meeting promises to be colorful.

But Burkle has also been reported in the past to be interested in stakes in big names such as the New York Times and upscale retailer Barneys. Maybe he sees these brand-name companies as able to turn things around under the right influence: his.

Also in the basket:

- U.S. retailers flex muscles with landlords
- China’s rising costs signal end of U.S. retail era
- John Lewis gets big Father’s Day sales boost

(Reuters photo)

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