And depending how the bankruptcies of Sears and Nine West play out, 2018 could also turn out to be the year when those that filed were more likely to exit bankruptcy as reorganized entities. So far one has exited, and another has plans to come out by mid-January. Two others are awaiting resolution through the legal process.
David’s Bridal (Nov. 19)
The bridal retailer filed a pre-packaged bankruptcy, meaning it had the support of most of its constituency group.
The company plans to exit bankruptcy by Jan. 14, and the current plan of reorganization has the retailer paying the claims of trade vendors in full. It also doesn’t have any plans to close stores.
David’s Bridal said the filing was done to restructure its pre-petition debt load of $777 million, and did not require any restructuring of its operations. The over-leveraging was due to debt from a leveraged buyout. Clayton, Dubilier & Rice acquired a 70.6 percent stake in the retailer in October 2012, with Leonard Green & Partners retaining a minority interest of 24.2 percent. It operates 311 stores and employs 9,260 people.
Sears Holdings Corp. (Oct. 15)
The Sears bankruptcy filing was expected — it was just a question of when. The filing was made on the day a $134 million interest payment was due.
The big question for Sears is whether it has a reason to exist. A committee of unsecured creditors has been pushing for the retailer to liquidate, but a Manhattan bankruptcy court sitting in White Plains, N.Y., allowed the retailer to try to sell itself. That paved the way for ESL Investments, the hedge fund managed by Edward S. Lampert, to make a $4.6 billion bid for the beleaguered retailer. Lampert, through ESL, is Sears’ largest shareholder and creditor, as well as chairman of both firms.
ESL is expected to become the so-called stalking horse, setting the baseline for other bids, if any were to be made at a court auction. Liquidators have been circling around Sears and are expected to make their own bids. While the sum of Sears’ parts could bring in more money to pay creditors, the bankruptcy court judge will have to weigh the balance of keeping Sears as a going concern and saving the jobs of tens of thousands of employees.
Carven (May 23)
The French contemporary brand and its parent company Société Béranger filed a voluntary petition with the Paris Commercial Court.
The French court in October selected Icicle Fashion Group, a Shanghai-based firm, to acquire the 74-year-old fashion house. Last month saw the exit of Carven’s creative director, Serge Ruffieux. His contract was not part of a 4.2 million-euro deal presented to the court by Icicle.
Nine West (April 6)
The petition listed estimated assets of $500 million to $1 billion, with estimated liabilities of $1 billion to $10 billion.
The company sold its Nine West and Bandolino footwear and handbag business to Authentic Brands Group for $340 million. That transaction closed in July. The remaining assets include Kasper Group and One Jeanswear, which includes the brands Gloria Vanderbilt and Jessica Simpson. It also includes women’s denim under the Nine West and Bandolino brand names. Other assets include Anne Klein and The Jewelry Group.
A group of unsecured creditors has an ongoing dispute with Nine West’s owner, Sycamore Partners. The dispute, which centers on the leveraged buyout of The Jones Group, is in mediation.
Claire’s Stores (March 19)
The teen and tween accessories chain filed to restructure its balance sheet. The petition listed estimated assets of between $1 billion and $10 billion, and estimated liabilities in the same range. It said it had the support of holders of 72 percent of its first lien debt, 8 percent of its second lien notes and 83 percent of its unsecured notes. Apollo Management acquired the business in May 2007 in a $3.1 billion leveraged buyout.
The core brand is Claire’s, but the retailer also operates its Icing concept stores, which target an older consumer between ages 18 to 35.
Claire’s emerged from bankruptcy in October, seven months after it filed. The bankruptcy eliminate $1.9 billion in debt and pared back the store base. Total door count is now nearly 2,500 doors across 17 countries, excluding concessions. At the time of the Chapter 11 filing, the store base totaled around 7,500 doors across 45 countries.