liquidation not bringing big money

With its most valuable asset already sold, the failed London-based online retailer likely won't come close to recouping its costs in an ongoing liquidation.

KPMG Corporate Recovery, a unit of consulting firm KPMG's U.K. subsidiary that's acting as's liquidator, today confirmed that software and other intellectual property owned by the clothing seller has been sold to Bright Station PLC, a British information technology firm.

A KPMG spokesman in the U.K. wouldn't disclose the financial details of the sale. But Andy Dancer, chief technology officer for e-commerce at Bright Station, said his company is paying just $374,900 for's software, which is supposed to make it possible to quickly set up product distribution networks across different languages and currencies via the Internet.

Dancer declined to comment on reports that spent about $58.5 million to develop the software and supporting technologies. But he said Bright Station was delighted with the acquisition. "We believe we've got technology that's worth a lot more than what we paid for it," Dancer said.

Following a failed attempt to get its investors to kick in more than the $100-million-plus they had already provided, collapsed two weeks ago, just six months after launching its Web site (see story). It was just one of several high-profile online retailers to go belly-up this month because of continuing losses.

The KPMG spokesman said the corporate recovery unit also expects to announce the sale of's domain and brand names soon. But since the technology that Bright Station is buying was's most valuable asset, the online clothing seller's investors aren't expected to get much, if any, money back from the liquidation process.

Bright Station's e-commerce division,, already markets business-to-business software and was contemplating the development of business-to-consumer products when the liquidation was announced, Dancer said. With the software available for the taking, the moment seemed right to make the jump, he added.

Bright Station, which has a customer base that's primarily located in the U.K. and Europe, plans to continue developing the software -- with the assistance of former employees, it hopes. "The liquidators made all the developers redundant," Dancer said. "We've got an open invitation for all of the technology staff to come with us."

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