Hardwick Clothes rejects last minute rival offer

Hardwick Clothes rejects last minute rival offer

Cleveland payday lender Allan Jones set to buy bankrupt company

June 2nd, 2014 by Dave Flessner in Local - Breaking News

Hardwick Clothes 33-year employee Jana Casteel performs a final inspection on a sports coat in this file photo.

Hardwick Clothes 33-year employee Jana Casteel performs a...

A last minute bid for America's oldest suit maker isn't the right fit and was rejected over the weekend.

The Chattanooga-based real estate firm of Williams and Williams Realty Services submitted a $2.1 million offer late Friday to buy the bankrupt assets of Hardwick Clothes Inc., in Cleveland, Tenn. But attorneys for Hardwick, which is operating under a reorganization plan through the federal bankruptcy court, said Williams' bid didn't provide enough cash and financial security in its bid to top a previous $1.9 million purchase offer from Cleveland businessman Allan Jones.

In an emial to Williams released Sunday, Hardwick CEO Tommy Hopper said the Williams bid did not include the required 10 percent cash deposit and the bid "has insufficient documentation and evidence of ability to pay cash for the over bid amount.

"The commitment letter you attached is conditional and subject to a number of contingencies," Hardwick said in an email to Williams. "As this is not a qualified bid, we will not conduct an auction on Monday, but shall instead submit the only bid, that of Jones Capital Corp, for approval on Friday."

David Fulton, an attorney for Williams & Williams Realty Services and owner Joe V. Williams III, said Saturday that Williams bid was sufficiently above Jones so-called "stalking horse" bid to be considered superior to Jones' initial offer. An auction had been planned for today among competing proposals in advance a court hearing Friday.

If successful, Fulton said Williams intended to try to keep Hardwick Clothes operating.

Hardwick will submit only Jones' purchase offer to U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Shelley Rucker for consideration at a hearing set for 9:30 a.m. Friday in federal court.

Jones, founder and CEO of the payday lending business, Check Into Cash, said he wants to buy Hardwick Clothes, install a new CEO and try to help the apparel maker regain some of the business lost to foreign rivals over the past three decades. Jones said his $1.9 million purchase offer for Hardwick "is only a fraction" of the money he plans to put in the 220-employee company.

Founded in 1880 by C.L Hardwick, Hardwick Clothes has remained in the same family ownership for five generations and remains as Cleveland's oldest manufacturing business. Hardwick has about 225 employees, down from a peak of about 900 employees a generation ago.

Read more in Tuesday's Times Free Press.

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