After months of will they/won't they speculation on whether luxury department store chain Barneys New York will be forced to file for bankruptcy protection, it appears the retailer may be turning a corner. This week, The New York Post ran a story saying the chain's owner, the Dubai-based investment firm Istithmar, is once again looking for a new CEO. Barneys has remained without a CEO for some time, as Istithmar struggled with falling sales, a $500 million debt load and takeover attempts by noted investor Ron Burkle, who already owns a large stake in the company.
The firm's renewed interest in retail operations signals that Barneys is back from the edge, with a 20 percent increase in March same-store sales. Luxury retailers, in general, seem to be experiencing a moderate renaissance, as high net worth consumers start to feel better about their balance sheets. In fact, many consumer experts say shoppers from high income households will likely return to their pre-recession levels of spending relatively soon, while the average middle-income consumer will remain shell-shocked by the downturn for some time to come.