L.A.'s Ron Burkle bids for N.Y.'s Barneys

Ron Burkle is known for investing in supermarkets, but the Los Angeles magnate apparently is making a move to go more upscale.

Burkle reportedly has made an offer to take a controlling stake in Barneys New York, the storied but troubled luxury retailer.

A bid would suggest that the private equity investor is confident about a recovery in the luxury fashion market, which has struggled during the economic downturn.

Burkle offered in December to inject $50 million into the chain in a deal that would give him 80% of the company’s common stock, the Wall Street Journal reported.

In addition to its flagship store on Madison Avenue in New York, Barneys has stores in upscale areas across the country, including in Beverly Hills.

Barneys, which rose from humble origins to the heights of fashion, was acquired in 2007 by the investment arm of the Dubai government, Istithmar World Capital, for nearly $1 billion. The deal involved lots of debt, which has caused problems for the company.

Burkle has already bought a significant amount of that debt through his private equity firm Yucaipa Cos. His latest offer still would have to pass through a number of hoops.