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Clint Engel

UPDATED: Samson Holding's Kuo to open Robb & Stucky stores in China, may relaunch in U.S.

Samson Holding CEO Samuel Kuo and his family have acquired the name and other intellectual assets of Robb & Stucky with plans to open stores in China under the name, and it may also reestablish the retailer in the United States.

Kuo confirmed in a press release Wednesday that he was behind the winning $470,000 bid by Robb & Stucky International in last week's bankruptcy court auction for the intellectual assets last week.

Publicly held Samson Holding is the parent company of home furnishings importers Universal Furniture, Legacy Classic, Craftmaster, Lacquercraft Hospitality, Encore Furniture, Samson International and Willis & Gambler, and is an OEM suppler for a number of other U.S. brands.

None appear on Robb & Stucky's list of largest unsecured creditors. Lacquer Craft President Mohamad Amini told Furniture/Today that Samson did not produce private label goods for the retailer.

"Currently my family owns and operates a number of retail stores in China, so it is our plan to add Robb & Stucky into our retail portfolio and bring this reputable brand to Chinese consumers by opening the dedicated Robb & Stucky stores," Kuo said.

He added that his family also will consider "building an experienced and professional management team to reopen Robb & Stucky's retail business in the U.S. using its product niche, vendor structure and customer base."

Amini said in an email Wednesday it's too early to say when the first Robb & Stucky stores would open in China, "but possibly next year."

As for U.S. stores, Amini said Samson is considering them "to utilize the current assets and build an infrastructure to support the upcoming China retail plans," but didn't elaborate further. He noted, "this is a private investment" and will not affect Samson's current business model and distribution.

With high-end stores in Florida, Dallas, Las Vegas and Glendale, Ariz., Fort Myers, Fla.-based Robb & Stucky filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in February and subsequently moved to full liquidation after the failure of a bid to purchase the assets for a scaled-down going concern.

Kuo's bid for the intellectual assets topped a $460,000 bid for the intellectual rights by former Robb & Stucky CEO Clive Lubner and son Dan Lubner.

The move effectively ended the Lubners' bid to possibly rebuild the business under the same name, but The Naples (Fla.) News reported that the Lubners' plan to re-enter the retail furniture business under a new name by fall.

David Peress, a principal with Needham, Mass-based Streambank, the agent hired to market the retailer's intellectual assets, earlier confirmed that Charlotte, N.C., investment baker Tim Stump, well known in the furniture industry, was the investment banker for Robb & Stucky International, the corporation Samuel Kuo established to buy the intellectual assets at the May 25 auction.

"This investment made by my family was based on our consideration of the prestigious image of Robb & Stucky name and its long history and expertise in high-end retail operation," Kuo said.

Dan Lubner, former president of Robb & Stucky's hospitality division, told the Naples News that he and his father are working on a marketing plan for a retail furniture business to open under another name by fall. Store locations have yet to be determined, though the Lubners are looking "for the best markets to emerge in" and "Naples is certainly at the top of the list," he told the newspaper.

According to court documents, there were four bidders and 25 subsequent bids on the intellectual property during the auction, with Robb & Stucky International's $470,000 bid topping the Lubners' final offer.

Streambank said it is expecting management and commission fees and expenses totaling about $105,600 for its role marketing the property. The intellectual assets include trademarks for Robb & Stucky and Robb & Stucky Interiors, Web URLs and customer data including names and addresses of some 480,000 customers.

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