The XI Factor: Bankruptcy Filings in 2011

Notable filings in the past year include Anchor Blue, No Fear and Syms Corp.

Last year was relatively quiet on the bankruptcy front, given the volatility in the equity markets and global financial issues. That may change in 2012. British lingerie retailer La Senza late last month filed a notion of intention to appoint administrators, the U.K. equivalent of entering Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Here are the more notable filings in 2011.

This story first appeared in the January 3, 2012 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

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ANCHOR BLUE: The Corona, Calif.-based teen specialty store operator was the first retail casualty of 2011, and has since shuttered its doors. The chain had survived a three-month stay in bankruptcy beginning in June 2009, but couldn’t compete in what was an increasingly promotional teen retail market. The company was owned by private equity firm Sun Capital Partners.

CHADWICKS OF BOSTON: The catalogue firm’s parent, Women’s Apparel Group, was forced into an involuntary Chapter 7 bankruptcy by three creditors in July in Boston. The petition was converted to a Chapter 11. Women’s Apparel Group operated the business under the name Boston Apparel Group. An affiliate of Chevy Chase, Md.-based private equity firm Blackstreet Capital Management LLC has acquired Boston Apparel’s equipment and brands. Boston Apparel was formed in 2008 after Monomoy Capital Investors bought Redcats USA’s Misses division that included Chadwicks and MetroStyle. In 2010, Boston Apparel acquired multichannel women’s apparel firm Casual Living USA.

D2: The British men’s wear retailer entered administration last month and BDO LLP was appointed as the administrator of the business, which is registered under the name A&J Menswear (Retail) Ltd. So far 19 stores have been closed, and the balance of 28 sites remain in operation as BDO eyes selling all or part of the company as a going concern. D2 carries denim and streetwear brands such as Kickers, Firetrap and Nike. Sir Tom Hunter founded the chain in 1999, which he sold to management in 2008. The chain is in its second tour of administration. Its first tour was in December 2009, when 32 stores were closed and management bought out the remaining stores.

DEB SHOPS: The 325-unit juniors chain, owned by Lee Equity Partners since July 2007, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy court protection in June. In September, the company received bankruptcy court approval to sell itself to its senior lenders. Lee Equity retains a 3 percent stake in the new equity of the restructured firm.

HART STORES INC.: The company petitioned for restructuring in August in a Quebec superior court, and was to have closed 32 of its 92 stores in Eastern Canada by the end of 2011. The midsize discount department store chain operates under the Hart, Bargain Giant and Géant des Aubaines nameplates. The retailer plans to restructure operations.

LEJABY: The lingerie firm filed for the French equivalent of Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in October with the commercial court in Lyon, France. The company needs to find a sustainable solution to its cash-flow problems by yearend. Austrian firm Palmers Textil AG acquired Lejaby from Warnaco Group in 2008.

METROPARK: The mall-based specialty chain Metropark filed for bankruptcy in White Plains, N.Y., in May, and the bankruptcy court judge overseeing the case approved the sale of its intellectual property in August to The Weisfeld Group. Weisfeld plans to restart the business in early 2012.

ORCHARD BRANDS: The direct-marketing firm with annual sales in excess of $1 billion filed a voluntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy court petition in Delaware in January. The court approved its reorganization in April, paving the way for the firm’s exit from bankruptcy proceedings in the same month. The company is part of Golden Gate Capital’s portfolio. The firm’s umbrella includes 17 catalogue businesses, most of which target the consumer market above the age of 55.

NO FEAR: The brand known for its action-sports apparel and accessories was popular with teens in the Nineties. It had shifted merchandise more recently to revolve around surfing and motocross themes. It also operated 41 stores at the time of its voluntary Chapter 11 filing in February in a San Diego bankruptcy court. The company emerged from bankruptcy court protection in August under new ownership. Ryderz Compound Inc. was the successful bidder in a bankruptcy court-approved auction.

SYMS CORP./FILENE’S BASEMENT: The company filed a voluntary Chapter 11 petition in Delaware in November and will liquidate both of its nameplates. Syms, best known for the motto “an educated consumer is our best customer,” was founded in 1959 by Sy Syms. It acquired Filene’s Basement in 2009. Filene’s, the oldest off-price retailer in the U.S., was founded in 1909 by William Filene. The latest filing is the third time Filene’s has been in bankruptcy.