GB Merchant Partners Buys Retailer Ashley Stewart

Buyout shop GB Merchant Partners, through its GB Merchant Partners’ 1903 Equity Fund, said that it has acquired Ashley Stewart, a Secaucus, N.J.-based plus size fashion retailer. Financial terms of the deal were not released. Formed in 1991, Ashley Stewart has more than 200 stores, and plans to expand following the acquisition. GB Merchant Partners has offices in New York and Boston. It’s 1903 Equity fund has roughly $270 million in committed capital.

GB Merchant Partners’ 1903 Equity Fund L.P., the institutional private equity affiliate of Gordon Brothers Group, announced that it acquired Ashley Stewart, a leading retailer and brand in the plus-size fashion industry. Headquartered in Secaucus, New Jersey and founded in 1991, Ashley Stewart currently operates over 200 stores and a complementary e-commerce business at The Company is led by a seasoned management team that includes CEO Laura Weil and President Steve Newman.

“Ashley Stewart is an iconic brand in the plus-size fashion industry,” said James Rhee, Managing Director of GB Merchant Partners. “The brand commands intense loyalty amongst a loyal customer base. By funding the business with a significant amount of permanent capital and no third-party debt, we have given an accomplished management team the resources to expand the store footprint and explore alternative avenues of growth, including licensing, wholesale and e-commerce. We look forward to being part of this new and exciting chapter in the life of Ashley Stewart.”

In a joint statement, Laura Weil and Steve Newman added, “We have been delighted by the overwhelming and continued support of our existing and new customers, vendors, factors and landlords. Our fall, holiday and spring offerings look terrific, and we are already enjoying the benefits associated with a strong balance sheet. Our employees nationwide share our enthusiasm. We are delighted to be partnering with GB Merchant Partners. They have delivered at every stage of the recapitalization process, and their creativity and perseverance, coupled with deep personal and institutional relationships, enabled Ashley Stewart to embark on a well-deserved brand-building and growth strategy.”

“The 1903 Equity Fund is uniquely positioned to take advantage of the special situations created by the current economic dislocation,” commented Matthew Kahn, Managing Director of GB Merchant Partners. “With access to the expertise and operating resources of Gordon Brothers Group, we have a significant competitive advantage in finding, unlocking and driving value in complicated situations. We recognized the truly unique value of Ashley Stewart in June and then ultimately structured a series of transactions that enabled us to acquire the assets with virtually no outstanding liabilities.”

About GB Merchant Partners

GB Merchant Partners (, the investment management affiliate of Gordon Brothers Group, focuses on private equity, structured loan and secondary debt investments. Equity investments are made through the 1903 Equity Fund L.P., which manages outside institutional capital and takes majority and minority equity positions in middle-market retail and consumer products companies. The 1903 Equity Fund has over $270 million of committed capital and focuses on special situations, providing financial and operating solutions to companies in transition. Other past and current portfolio companies include Spencer Gifts, Things Remembered and Grafton-Fraser (d/b/a Tip Top Tailors). GB Merchant Partners’ managed debt fund investments include structured subordinated loans to middle-market companies, as well as positions in the secondary debt markets.

About Gordon Brothers Group

Founded in 1903, Gordon Brothers Group ( is a global advisory, restructuring and investment firm specializing in the retail, consumer products, industrial and real estate sectors. Gordon Brothers Group maximizes value for both healthy and distressed companies by purchasing or selling all categories of assets, appraising assets, providing debt financing, making private equity investments, and operating businesses for extended periods. Gordon Brothers Group conducts over $50 billion worth of transactions and appraisals annually.

About Ashley Stewart

Since the early 1990’s, Ashley Stewart has been styling customers and setting fashion trends for the plus-size fashion industry. The Ashley Stewart brand is truly an eclectic mix. It is fashion forward, sexy and inspirational. It provides the customer with head-to-toe outfits from trendy sportswear to lingerie to outerwear. Ashley Stewart dresses women from the bedroom to the boardroom. Fashion conscious plus-size urban women shop at Ashley Stewart to find the latest fashions that reflects their inner-confidence.

SOURCE GB Merchant Partners

Craig Venezia of Gordon Brothers Group, +1-617-422-7842,; or Laura Weil of Ashley Stewart, +1-201-319-9093 (ext 2112)