PORTLAND, Ore. -- The president of Sprouse-Reitz Stores Inc. told stockholders a special committee has been authorized to begin discussions with parties interested in acquiring all or part of the 80-year-old retail chain.
However, Robert Sprouse II said Monday at the annual shareholders' meeting there is 'no assurance' the talks will lead to a deal.
In April, Robert Bisno, chairman of TransAction Financial Corp. of Oakland, Calif., made an unsolicited bid of $17 a share, or $24 million, to buy the retail chain.
Sprouse did not say who else might be interested in acquiring the company, which has suffered declining earnings in the past five years and cumulative losses of more than $2.5 million in the last two years. Bisno said after the meeting he was unaware of any competing offers.
Voting shareholders also overwhelmingly rejected Bisno's motion to grant equal voting rights to holders of the company's non-voting common stock. Robert Sprouse II controls almost 80 percent of the company's voting shares.
Sprouse, who also is chief executive officer of Sprouse-Reitz, admitted the company's performance in 1989 was disappointing but said it plans to go on the offensive and regain profitability in 1990.
Instead of trying to be 'all things to all people,' Sprouse said the chain will focus on six specific areas: toys, housewares, crafts, home furnishings, family apparel and greeting cards, wrapping paper and other paper products. He said it will try to carve a new marketing niche that will make it more competitive with miss discounters.
'We can't have business as usual,' Sprouse said.
He also said the company plans to close 20 more marginal or unprofitable stores while opening three new stores during the year. Some existing stores will be remodeled following an experimental new format that will highlight the six merchandise groups.
The chain operates 287 stores in 10 Western states, including Oregon and Washington, down from 321 stores in 1986.