Clothing chain Francesca’s files bankruptcy to sell itself

Clothing and accessories chain Francesca’s Holdings Corp. filed for bankruptcy protection to ease a planned sale of assets to an investor as retailers face continued financial pressure during the coronavirus pandemic.

Francesca’s sought chapter 11 in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Del., on Thursday to run a sales process while tapping TerraMar Capital LLC, which invests in midsize businesses, as the lead bidder. TerraMar’s offer will be subject to higher bids and an auction if necessary, and requires court approval to close.

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Francesca’s CEO Andrew Clarke said a number of other interested parties are engaged in due diligence.

Francesca’s storefront (Google Street View) 

“We are confident that we will emerge from this process as a stronger company poised to drive growth by exploring new brand avenues, expanding our e-commerce channels, and providing our customers with the latest fashion options and treasure-hunt experiences they know and love us for, ” he said.


Houston-based Francesca’s said in November that it would close roughly 140 of its boutiques–which sell apparel, jewelry, accessories and gifts–by the end of January, leaving about 560 in operation. The company said Thursday it planned to renegotiate a number of leases during the bankruptcy process, which “may include closing additional boutiques.”

Francesca’s lender Tiger Finance LLC is supplying a $25 million financing package to carry the company through chapter 11 and cover employee wages and benefits and the provision of customer orders. The company’s planned sales process would conclude by Jan 20.


The coronavirus has been devastating for many retailers as government mandates and shoppers’ fear of contagion have reduced foot traffic at bricks-and-mortar locations. The pandemic exacerbated the challenges retailers already faced from changing consumer habits and the growing popularity of online shopping.

Retailers shut down stores for good at a record pace in the first half of 2020, while big companies like J.C. Penney Co., Neiman Marcus Group Inc. and Brooks Brothers Inc. filed for chapter 11.


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19 Beauty Advent Calendars We’re Buying Early (Before They Sell Out)

When it comes to holiday beauty gifts, there are limited edition bundled sets and then there are advent calendars. These epic boxes are singular in their packaging — which you’ll want to repurpose for years to come (my mom puts mini chocolates in them) — never failing in delivering that festive wow factor. Not to mention, beauty brands go especially hard when it comes to filling their advent calendars with a more-is-more approach. And, if past seasons weren’t enough proof in the product pudding, then brace yourselves for 2020’s holiday haul.

Whether you’re a makeup maven or a skin-care savant, there’s an already dropped and specially curated box out there with your name on it. The holidays have come early, and we are more than okay with it — because these limited-edition gifts are sure to sell out long before December rolls around. Scroll ahead to peep our hand-picked selection of the most extra-in-a-good-way beauty advent calendars worthy of scooping up now.

At Refinery29, we’re here to help you navigate this overwhelming world of stuff. All of our market picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team. If you buy something we link to on our site, Refinery29 may earn commission. 

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UK clinics sell ‘virginity tests’, which traumatize women, says BBC

  • “Virginity tests,” in which a woman’s hymen is examined, are available at least seven UK medical clinics, an investigation by BBC Newsbeat and 100 Women has found.
  • The tests are legal in the UK, but the WHO and UN say they violate human rights and should be banned.
  • “Failing” the test can result in violence, sexual assault, banishment from their community, and even “honor killing.”
  • France is currently mulling a ban of the tests, but experts warn this could lead to a black market.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

At least seven medical clinics in the UK sell controversial “virginity tests,” an investigation by BBC Newsbeat and 100 Women has found.

During the test, a practitioner examines the woman’s vagina to see if her hymen is intact and determine whether she has had vaginal intercourse.

The tests are legal in the UK, but both the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations are fighting for them to be banned, saying they violate human rights.

It is not possible to find whether a woman has had intercourse by looking at her hymen, the WHO says. The tests can harm women’s mental and physical health, it added. 

The BBC found 21 private clinics offering “virginity repair” services. When the BBC inquired, seven confirmed they offered “virginity testing.” This was priced at between £150 and £300 ($200 to $400).

Read more: Everyone knows Kamala Harris and Jill Biden. Meet 12 more women in prime positions to sway the Biden White House.

In many cases, women are forced to take the tests, the WHO says. This can be by parents, employers, or potential partners. “Proof of virginity” is sometimes required for marriage. In some cultures, the concept of virginity determines a woman’s virtue, honor, and social value, according to the WHO.

Virginity tests are also sometimes carried out on sexual assault victims to determine whether rape has occurred.

The practice is “medically unnecessary, and often times painful, humiliating, and traumatic,” the WHO says.

The tests are traditionally carried out by either inspecting the hymen for tears or its size of opening, or inserting fingers into the vagina. But there is no evidence that either method can prove whether a woman or girl has had vaginal intercourse, the medical body adds. 

In some circumstances, “failing” the test is seen to bring dishonor and shame to their family and community. It can result in punishment, including being beaten, starved, sexually assaulted, banished from their community, or even murdered as a so-called “honor killing.”

WHO recommends that virginity tests aren’t performed under any circumstances, and urges governments to enact and enforce laws that ban the practice.


France is divided on a virginity test ban

In France, politicians are considering a ban of the practice.

If legislation passes, medical professionals who issue a virginity certificate could face a year in prison and a 15,000 euro ($17,875) fine.

Almost one in three French doctors said they have been asked for these certificates, according to France 3

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Could M&S sell Jaeger dresses to lure back lost shoppers? Fashion brand tops a hit-list of 20 possible tie-ups

a person posing for the camera: Valuable: The Jaeger brand is certain to appeal to M&S’s core customers

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Valuable: The Jaeger brand is certain to appeal to M&S’s core customers

Marks & Spencer held discussions with British fashion brand Jaeger shortly before the high street lockdown as part of an overhaul of its clothing strategy coming in the new year, The Mail on Sunday can reveal. 

Sources said the retail giant separately held informal talks about a possible acquisition of the business as recently as last week. 

The Mail on Sunday understands Marks & Spencer – which declined to comment – has drawn up a ‘hit list’ of at least 20 brands with which it would like to form partnerships and that Jaeger is among them. 

The discussions that took place prior to the coronavirus lockdown centred on a ‘collaboration’ as part of a broad strategic plan to reposition Marks & Spencer’s clothing and home business with brand partnerships to draw in new and lapsed shoppers. 

A source told The Mail on Sunday that a full swoop on the brand has since been discussed internally while another said talks have taken place over a deal – possibly even a strategic partnership or a stake – since it was put up for sale by its owner Philip Day this month. 

a young boy wearing a suit and tie: MailOnline logo

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But another Marks & Spencer source appeared to distance the firm from any active interest in Jaeger, insisting there was ‘no formal process’. 

Jaeger is run by Lauren Day, the daughter of the fashion tycoon whose group is in financial disarray after the pandemic hit trade. 

Edinburgh Woollen Mill – also the name of Day’s group – and Ponden Home were formally placed in administration a week ago. Day has been in talks to sell a stake in Peacocks to hedge fund Davidson Kempner – as revealed last month by The Mail on Sunday. 

As part of the overhaul of the group, Day’s other businesses – which include Austin Reed – have been put up for sale with several ‘big hitters’ said to be interested in Jaeger. Marks & Spencer’s fierce rival Next is thought to be among them.

Sportswear mogul Mike Ashley is also said to be interested. 

One senior fashion market source familiar with the Jaeger and M&S businesses said a collaboration with Jaeger could work ‘incredibly well’ and would sharpen the appeal to Marks & Spencer’s core customers. 

The source said that despite Jaeger’s troubled past, Day’s daughter has built new product ranges and improved margins. 

‘M&S has a premium food business but its clothing doesn’t measure up. A brand like Jaeger could help bridge the gap,’ the source added. 

High streets and town centres were in crisis even before the pandemic. A handful of shops giants have used their financial might to snap up retail businesses, including Boohoo which acquired the online divisions of Karen Millen and Coast a year ago for just £18.2million. 

Ashley seized department store House of Fraser in 2018 and last year bought clothing business Jack Wills

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Black women entrepreneurs sell the medical wigs other companies won’t

In 2019, her acute frustration with this health care disparity led her to found Coils to Locs, a Boston-based company that sources curly and kinky wigs and sells them mostly to hospital boutiques. Austin’s first move was to land deals with the hospitals she felt herself alienated from: The cancer shops at Beth Israel, Dana-Farber, and MGH now carry Coils to Locs wigs. (She also supplies a salon in downtown Boston, a boutique in Georgia, and a hospital in Texas.)

“The bottom line is: If a hospital is providing a service for its patients, [it] needs to provide the service for all patients,” she says.

Throughout her dead-end search for her own medical wig — also sometimes called a cranial prosthesis — boutique managers kept giving Austin the same advice: Go to a salon in a community of color and find your own wig, or buy a straight wig at the hospital with insurance coverage, and then go to a salon to chemically “kink it up.”

But she would’ve had to pay out of pocket for that chemical treatment, and if she’d bought a curly wig at a salon, getting insurance reimbursement would’ve been chancy. Salons that sell cosmetic wigs frequently offer only a register receipt after purchase, which not all insurance companies will accept. Cosmetic wigs are also not designed to account for the scalp soreness that chemotherapy can cause, and sometimes they require an existing base of hair to attach to — an impossibility if you’re dealing with complete hair loss. And many of these shops don’t offer the same level of privacy and sensitivity one can expect at a cancer center.

All of this was also on Nikia Londy’s mind when she decided to pivot her business, Intriguing Hair, to serve customers in search of medical wigs. When she opened her store in Hyde Park in 2015, she was mostly catering to Black women looking for cosmetic hair extensions. But she saw over time that more and more of her customers were people of many ethnicities looking for medical support as they experienced the loss of their curly hair. Her shop is now outfitted with a private space for one-on-one consultations, and the business is also certified to bill insurance companies directly, something that’s extremely rare outside of hospital boutiques. “A lot of times I find that customers don’t know they can even get their wig reimbursed [by insurance companies],” she says. So increasingly her job is equal parts adviser and coiffeur.

Most medical customers ask her for a monofilament wig, where individual strands of hair are sewn into a scalp cap that can be slipped on and off easily. But monofilament wigs usually have a white cap — which can be a problem for women of color.

“If you’re another complexion, it typically doesn’t work for you,” she says. Instead, she advises people to get custom wigs that skip the cap altogether.

While Austin and Londy cater mostly to adults with hair loss, Tiffany Fitz and

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Red Lobster to Sell Holiday Gift Boxes Filled with Cheddar Bay Biscuits

Red Lobster Seafood Co.

Red Lobster has your next cheesy Christmas gift covered.

The fast-casual company is making the holidays a little bit easier — and tastier — by offering their classic Cheddar Bay Biscuits in festive gift boxes beginning next week.

Customers can visit the Red Lobster website starting Nov. 16 to order a half-dozen Cheddar Bay Biscuits to Go in a limited-edition, festive gift box. The gift boxes will be available through the holiday season while supplies last.

For $1 extra, the restaurant will place six savory biscuits in a red box decorated with a white gift bow and holiday decorations.

RELATED: Red Lobster Is Now Selling Gluten-Free Cheddar Bay Biscuit Mix

According to the press release, the order can be placed by going to the Biscuits & Extras section of the online ordering page of the website.

“Whether you’re searching for a unique gift to give a loved one you can’t physically be with, or looking to reward yourself for finishing a tough year strong, our Cheddar Bay Biscuit gift boxes are guaranteed to serve up some much-needed warmth and comfort this holiday season,” Deanna Kotch, Red Lobster’s vice president of marketing, said in the release.

The biscuits can be picked up at a participating Red Lobster or customers can have the gift delivered straight to the recipient’s door through contactless delivery.

Once the gift boxes are sold out, biscuits can still be purchased at their normal price.

RELATED: The Best New Holiday Treats to Snack on This Season

Courtesy Red Lobster

Red Lobster & MTN DEW

Earlier this year, the chain unveiled another major innovation: a Mountain Dew margarita known as the “DEW-Garita.” PepsiCo and Red Lobster teamed up to revamp the seafood chain’s cocktail menu — and the first addition was the official Mountain Dew cocktail. It’s bright lime green and “pairs perfectly” with the iconic Cheddar Bay Biscuits, according to the press release.

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iPhone 12 and MagSafe: A new way for Apple to sell expensive accessories

Apple is an interesting company, in that every new product has been engineered so that it becomes a way to sell something else. This has been true for so long, and predates the iPhone.

So, when I saw MagSafe, my first thought was not how this could improve charging, but how it would offer Apple another way to sell expensive — dare I saw, overpriced — accessories.

I was right.

Must read: iPhone 12 Ceramic Shield means half the glass on your new iPhone is harder to smash    

First, there’s a MagSafe charger. This wireless charger has been designed and built for MagSafe on the iPhone 12, but will work with other iPhones going back to the iPhone 8, along with the AirPods charging case and the AirPods Pro.

And any Android smartphones that you take pity on.

The price for this is $39, which isn’t as much as I was expecting, but it’s still steep considering that it doesn’t come with a charger (just the charging plate), and you can buy 15-watt wireless charging plates for about $10. You can buy a very functional Anker 15-watt wireless charger plate and charger for $30.

But, or course, they don’t have the magnetic magic, and don’t have the Apple logo on them.

Then there are silicone cases. There are unapologetically priced at $49 whether you want on for the iPhone 12 mini of the iPhone 12 Pro Max.

Fancy that neat leather wallet that snaps onto the back of the iPhone 12? It sure looks nice, but I’m not sure it’s $59 nice.

But I suppose if you are dropping anything between $699 and $1,399 for a new iPhone 12, another hundred bucks on accessories is a drop in the ocean.

  • Starting price: $699
  • Colors: Black, white, red, blue, and green
  • Display size: 5.4 inches

$699 at Apple

  • Starting price: $799
  • Colors: Black, white, red, blue, and green
  • Display size: 6.1 inches

$799 at Apple

  • Starting price: $999
  • Colors: Gold, silver, graphite, and blue
  • Display size: 6.1 inches 

$999 at Apple

  • Starting price: $1,099
  • Colors: Gold, silver, graphite, and blue
  • Display size: 6.7 inches

$1,099 at Apple

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Used Clothing – Does It Sell on eBay?

There's no denying that what it comes to selling on the secondary market eBay is probably your go-to place to sell your used or unused clothes, shoes and accessories. This process can, however, be rather hit and miss at times. It is rather amazing to find that what you think is past its best or perhaps un-wearable, someone else might think is in perfectly good condition to have in their wardrobe.

When people list items on eBay and they fail to sell there could be numerous reasons why. Very often it's because they have been incompletely or incorrectly listed or have been presented with bad photos or descriptions. Customers will not buy from people who fail to meet the criteria for listing purchases properly. The main complaints that come from shoppers who have been unhappy with the used clothes they have purchased are that items arrived stained, marked or flawed or that they were incorrectly sized. Concerns may also be raised over the fact that the color of the clothes received differed from the ones viewed on the photograph put up by the seller.

If you follow a few clear guidelines then you should have no issues whatsoever with selling your used clothing.

As always, with anything that isn't brand new, honesty is always the best policy. Make sure that the garments you are selling are clean and have been cared for according to the instructions on the label. Before you sell anything, make sure the garment is cleaned and if appropriate, ironed or dry cleaned.

Hold your garments up to the light and examine them for imperfections, flaws and marks. When you make your listing, be sure to add these in to the description. If need be, take pictures and add those as well. Take very good, clear, digital photos in a well lit room. If you are selling a suit for instance, put all the pieces together so that potential customers can see what the outfit looks like as a whole rather than in two or three separate pieces.

Make sure you give correct measurements for the garments, bust, waist and hip measurements are always helpful, and can be more so than just stating "size 10" or "Extra Small".

List your items carefully and make sure that you set your starting price for selling as low as you are possibly prepared to go. The lower the starting price is on an item, the more people are likely to bid on it and the greater the chance you have of making a profit!

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How to Sell Digital Books at Physical Events

Digital books are a great way to get your content quickly into the hands of millions of readers. But what about selling digital books at physical events? You can tell people about your book and how great it is, but they can’t actually buy the book unless you have a kiosk set up for it or a mobile card reader to make them buy then and there. If you want a better approach to selling your digital books at physical events, then you’ll be happy to know that there is something you can do to improve your marketing.

The Sell

What are you selling? Digital books, of course. However, that’s information in a digital space and people can’t touch it (unlike physical books). So, how do you sell a digital product at a physical event that people can actually touch? It comes down to coupon codes. Some companies, such as Enthrill, are selling coupon codes at cheap prices that you can use however you want.

Here’s how it works. First, you buy the coupon codes. The prices are currently set $1.50 per code with a minimum purchase of 100 coupons. You can then upload your book to their servers and whoever inputs the code will get your book. You can also do this by making your own coupon codes and uploading books to your own website or server, which will cut down the price, but this approach requires some technical knowledge and a website under your complete control (so no free websites).

Regardless, you’ll see that even paying the $1.50 per coupon code can still yield some lucrative results.

Making a Product

Now that you have the coupon codes, what do you do with them? Do you write them down on notebook paper and hand them out? Do you write them on business cards? The best thing you can do is print them on small items that you can sell. This allows you to make your product more valuable while improving your selling ability.

For example, let’s say that you have a cookbook. You can sell a small bag of ingredients and place a tag on the bag with the coupon code. Or, you could sell spatulas, spoons or other kitchen tools and print the coupon code on them. Or, let’s say that your book is about weight loss. You can print the coupon code on pedometers, portion control plates, resistance bands or various other items. Just sell the item for $10 and you have a nice profit and a new reader. Even with the extra promotional item, you should be able to double your investment.

Simpler Approach

If getting a promotional item and printing codes on it is too hard, then don’t worry. There’s a much simpler approach that, while not as effective, can still make you a lot of money. Enthrill is willing to print the codes out on gift cards so that you can hand them out during your event. If you would prefer printing the codes …

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