HONOLULU, HAWAII — ERT Sales of Hawaii, Inc., the owner and operator of the Price Busters and Let’s Party chain of stores in Hawaii, announced plans to sell substantially all of its assets to Retail Partners Hawaii LLC, a newly formed venture between The MacNaughton Group and Kobayashi Group.
The MacNaughton Group has extensive experience in retail operations including owning and operating Blockbuster Video, Starbucks Coffee, Jamba Juice and P.F. Chang’s in Hawaii. The Kobayashi Group is a Hawaii‐based real estate development and investment firm specializing in residential, resort and commercial projects. MacNaughton and Kobayashi have teamed up together on a number of
successful projects over the last few years.
ERT Sales filed for chapter 11 protection in mid‐January 2010 after experiencing a combination of business challenges that took place when the economy stalled. ERT currently operates 8 stores on Oahu under the Price Busters and Let’s Party brand names. It closed its downtown location in April 2010. The proposed sale of assets to Retail Partners is subject to Bankruptcy Court approval.
Price Busters currently has approximately 270 employees, all of which are expected to be retained by Retail Partners. Retail Partners is also hopeful that all vendor relationships can be preserved.
Beth Tom, President of ERT, founded the company in 1992 and has made it her mission to offer value to customers through quality merchandise at the best prices with a smile. Tom will continue to work as a consultant to Retail Partners Hawaii and assist with purchasing merchandise and training new merchandise buyers for a period of time after the transaction is completed.
“I have tremendous respect for Retail Partners in terms of their business success and their people and I can’t think of a better fit for Price Busters for the future. Price Busters has pretty much been my life over the last 18 years and it is admittedly difficult to hand the keys over to someone else, but I am doing this for all the right reasons. I look forward to helping the new team during the transition period and I am confident about Price Busters’ future” said Tom.
“Beth is an invaluable resource and we are pleased she will assist us in a consulting role as we stabilize and transition the company,” stated Jeff Arce, a principal of The MacNaughton Group. “Her knowledge and passion for Price Busters will help us achieve our goal of ensuring that Price Busters remains a viable player in Hawaii’s retail market, that jobs are retained and that Price Busters continues to provide a great product through its merchandise and customer relationships.”
During chapter 11, the stores have continued to operate as usual, although merchandise orders were cut back a bit and vendors were concerned about shipping goods to a company in bankruptcy. Retail Partners is poised to provide fresh capital and liquidity to ERT, which should give vendors confidence to ship their goods. “Our whole team has done a great job of managing the operations during this period of time” said Tom. “We have done our best to keep the shelves stocked with the right merchandise as best we can and are really looking forward to being able to bring even more great products in for the Holiday period. This is an important time for our customers and we need to have the right products on the shelves for them.”
The two parties are working closely together to finalize all the necessary documents and obtain all the necessary approvals, including the approval of the Bankruptcy Court. The asset purchase is likely to close sometime during December, making it a special Christmas for Price Busters employees and customers.
Price Busters is the largest locally‐owned discount store featuring party and seasonal merchandise, housewares, home accents, toys and trendy stationery with over 35,000 items. They currently have 8 stores on Oahu including Windward Mall, Kapolei Commons, Kailua, Pearlridge Mall, Pearl Highlands, Dillingham Plaza, Mililani Town Center and Koko Marina. In 2002, Price Busters received the Retailer of the Year Award from the Retail Merchants of Hawaii. For more information, visit: www.pricebustershawaii.com.
Submitted by Sherri Rigg, Director of Marketing Communications, The MacNaughton Group