New Buyer Sought for Abercrombie & Fitch : Oshman Pulls Out of Deal to Sell Unit

Times Staff Writer

Oshman’s Sporting Goods said Thursday that it has ended an agreement to sell its Abercrombie & Fitch division to an investment group headed by Michel Zelnik.

However, Oshman’s said it intends to pursue the possibility of selling the 27-store chain to “another potential purchaser.” It did not say who else might be interested or whether it has received another bid for the struggling chain.

Under the original deal, announced in July, the Houston-based company was to sell the chain, which in years past provided hunting rifles to Ernest Hemingway and Theodore Roosevelt, for $30 million in cash and $20 million in notes. It also was to retain 15% of the common stock of a new corporation being formed to buy Abercrombie & Fitch, Zelnik said in a July interview.

Purchased in 1977


Zelnik, vice chairman of Bidermann Industries, a New York-based unit of a French wholesaler of men’s and women’s apparel, could not be reached Thursday. Oshman’s Treasurer R. L. Bockart, reached at his home, declined to elaborate on the company’s statement. Company Chairman Alvin N. Lubetkin could not be reached.

Oshman’s bought the Abercrombie & Fitch name in 1977 after the original company went bankrupt. Since then, it has attempted to rebuild the chain’s image but, analysts said, has failed to establish a solid identity for the company.

In its statement, Oshman’s placed Abercrombie & Fitch’s book value at about $15 million. In 1986, the chain accounted for $48 million of Oshman’s $323 million in sales. Oshman’s also operates 188 sporting-goods stores.