Huffpost Business

Fortunoff Files For Bankruptcy

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WESTBURY, N.Y. — Fortunoff, a chain of housewares stores in the Northeast, said Thursday it has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and is seeking a buyer.

The chain sells jewelry, furniture and other household goods at three full-line stores and operates 16 outdoor furniture stores.

"The jewelry and home goods businesses have been hit particularly hard by the economic downturn," said Chief Executive Charles Chinni.

Fortunoff was founded in 1922 by Max and Clara Fortunoff, who sold a range of goods from eight shops under the elevated subway tracks in Brooklyn. The couple opened their first store in the Long Island suburbs in 1964 and later expanded to Manhattan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Connecticut.

The Fortunoff family sold most of its interest in the stores to investors in 2004. The company is based in Westbury, on Long Island.

Fortunoff Fine Jewelry and Silverware LLC filed for bankruptcy protection in February 2008 when, pinched by the housing downturn, it was unable to borrow money to meet expenses.

The chain exited bankruptcy when it was sold last year to NRDC Equity Partners, the owner of Lord & Taylor department stores. Lori Rhodes, a spokeswoman for Fortunoff, said the chain has operated separately from Lord & Taylor.

NRDC had talked of expanding to 50 full-line stores and 300 outdoor furniture locations. There were plans to open Fortunoff boutiques inside Lord & Taylor stores, but that never happened, Rhodes said.

Fortunoff has 1,700 employees, according to Rhodes.