David’s Bridal was able to work through its financial issues with creditors and is now thinking beyond the dress.
The wedding apparel and accessory company emerged from bankruptcy earlier this month and is now looking to expand its offerings and services to keep up with changing consumers.
“We’ve begun to solve more problems for women on this journey than just the choice of her dress,” said Scott Key, chief executive officer of David’s Bridal. “There are other services in the wedding process that are as — or more — interesting than apparel.”
Currently, the retailer’s selection includes wedding dresses, bridesmaid attire, mother-of-the-bride gowns, prom dresses and accessories. Key, who took over as ceo last year, said David’s Bridal might extend its assortment of apparel. But more likely new products and services will be added.
The company, which is backed by private equity money, is going “to participate in other parts of the ecosystem that are along that journey to the day of getting married that we historically have not participated in,” Key said.
“Once we have helped her with the selection of the dress, or maybe David’s is not the choice for her, I still have the opportunity to help her with something else in the journey; the creation of the registry and/or other services,” Key added.
Last fall, David’s acquired Blueprint Registry, a Seattle start-up. Brides and grooms can set up a registry, linking items from other retailers. The set-up allows David’s to take a cut of the non-David’s Bridal goods.
Key said registries make up one of the largest segments of the wedding market, but he noted David’s will expand into other areas, “and figure out how to solve other problems for brides,” although he would not be specific.
David’s trip to bankruptcy court officially ended Jan. 18. The retailer, which has about 300 stores across the U.S., as well as stores in the U.K., Mexico, Puerto Rico and Canada, was able to remove about $450 million in debt during the process, Key said.
The company originally filed for Chapter 11 protection in November after missing an interest payment on $270 million in unsecured notes. At the time, analysts speculated too much debt and changing consumer preferences, including declining marriage rates, were the culprits.
But Key said the move was more about “right-sizing of our balance sheet.” He pointed out that none of the brick-and-mortar locations closed during the bankruptcy proceeding. David’s even opened a store in Canada this month, and Key said he anticipates more stores will follow north of the border, although he said not a significant number.
The retailer known for affordable dresses has had to deal with increased competition from direct-to-consumer brands and luxury boutiques in recent years. Key said the company is adapting to marketplace changes. Earlier this month, David’s Bridal featured a same-sex couple for the first time in a TV ad.
“We are the market leader by a very large segment,” he said. “That does not mean we do not have to be on our game in terms of what it takes to compete in the marketplace.”
“The ad spot we did is reflective of the women we serve today,” he said. “It is a diverse group of people. Our intent was to actually communicate that we get what the modern bride is about and that we embrace that.”
David’s is just one of many retailers to seek bankruptcy protection in recent years. Other retailers include Sears Holdings Corp., Bon-Ton Stores, Claire’s, Nine West Holdings, The Limited, Wet Seal, True Religion, Gymboree and rival dress retailer Alfred Angelo. Earlier this month, Wisconsin-based chain retailer Shopko filed for bankruptcy.