US mother-and-baby retailer Destination Maternity has approved Marquee Brands as a stalking horse bidder in its ongoing sale process, six weeks after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Marquee Brands, owner of labels such as BCBG Max Azria and Ben Sherman, has bid to purchase Destination Maternity's e-commerce businesses, intellectual property, leased departments within department stores and baby speciality stores, strategic marketing partnerships and the right to designate certain inventory and related assets for sale by its partners, Gordon Brothers and Hilco Merchant Resources.

The bid of around US$50m represents a baseline bid and is subject to higher or otherwise better offers in an open auction process.

Destination Maternity expects the auction, scheduled to take place on 9 December 2019, to be "competitive."

"We are pleased that Marquee Brands recognises the value of our business and has made a competitive bid during our marketing and sale process," says Lisa Gavales, a member of Destination Maternity's board of directors and the interim office of the CEO. "We are working to continue the sale process, including the auction, and look forward to an outcome that will maximise value for our stakeholders. Looking ahead, we remain focused on continuing to serve our loyal customers."

Throughout the process, Destination Maternity said it expects its operations to continue.

Last month Destination Maternity announced the "difficult, but necessary" decision to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The company had begun to explore options, including the sale of the company, in early September.