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Big M Inc., the firm that operates the Mandee Shops, Annie Sez and Afaze nameplates, plans to restructure and exit bankruptcy proceedings.
This story first appeared in the January 9, 2013 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
While retailers in bankruptcy often also consider a liquidation option or even consider selling the firm, that’s not in Big M’s plans.
“We are reorganizing the company and getting additional financial strength [to go] forward as an ongoing operation,” said Alan Mandelbaum, chairman of Big M in a telephone interview.
As reported, the Totowa, N.J.-based firm filed a voluntary Chapter 11 petition for bankruptcy court protection in a Newark bankruptcy court Sunday night.
While there’s been ongoing speculation regarding its financial wherewithal, Mandelbaum said that’s mostly due to some bumps attributed to a costly implementation of a merchandising information system.
“The implementation did not go well, and there was a backup of inventory that were [neither] processed into the system nor [sent] to the stores. That set us back,” the chairman said.
As the implementation issues were resolved, Big M was then hurt by the impact of Hurricane Sandy, which resulted in the temporary shutdown of some stores.
According to Mandelbaum, the firm estimated a minimum amount of $6 million in claims under its “business interruption insurance policy.” Those claims are still pending before its insurer, and Mandelbaum blames the unresolved insurance matter as a big reason for the firm filing its Chapter 11 petition.
Three stores were completely wiped out from Hurricane Sandy: one in Brighton Beach, in Brooklyn, N.Y., and two on Long Island, in Oceanside and Merrick. Mandelbaum said the plan is to rebuild all three stores.
The firm operates 84 Mandee Shops, 35 Annie Sez stores and 10 Afaze locations.
Meanwhile, Mandelbaum said his company continues to have the support of its vendor base.
Big M was founded in 1948 by the Mandelbaum family and remains a privately held family-owned business.