UPDATE 1-Linens 'n Things store closings to begin Friday

Wed Oct 15, 2008 7:37pm EDT

(Updates with details about store closings)

NEW YORK Oct 15 (Reuters) - Going-out-of business sales at Linens 'n Things stores will begin on Friday after the bankrupt home goods retailer failed to find a buyer to keep the chain running.

A group of six of the U.S. largest liquidators who made a $475 million offer for the company, were the only buyers to emerge for the retailer's assets in a bankruptcy auction.

In the liquidation, 371 stores throughout the United States will go dark, the liquidators said in a statement on Wednesday. The company's Canadian stores are also set to be liquidated.

The liquidators expect to sell more than $1 billion of inventory and store fixtures in the going-out-of business sales, they said.

When Linens filed for bankruptcy protection in May, it billed itself as the second largest specialty retailer of home textiles, housewares and home accessories in North America. At the time it was running 589 stores and it has already taken steps to close around 200 locations during the bankruptcy.

The joint venture of liquidators running the store closing sales includes Gordon Brothers Retail Partners, Hilco Merchant Resources, SB Capital Group, Tiger/Nassi Group, Hudson Capital Partners and Great American Group.

The stores are expected to be completely closed in less than 11 weeks, by Jan. 1 at the latest.

The Clifton, New Jersey-based company, along with other home goods retailers, was hurt by the sharp decline in the U.S. housing market and consumers who pulled back on discretionary spending. The company had also been bought for $1.3 billion in 2006 by buyout firm Apollo Global Management, leaving it with a heavy debt.

In August, Linens put forward a reorganization plan to emerge from bankruptcy in 2009, but the company failed to gain enough support from creditors, forcing it to auction off its assets.

Proceeds from the liquidation will be used to pay off the company's creditors, but many of its lower tier unsecured creditors are unlikely to receive anything back. (Reporting by Emily Chasan; Editing by Andre Grenon)

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