NEW YORK — Two weeks after LF Brands told its employees that it couldn’t meet payroll and had shut down without any notice or benefits, there’s still been no communication to fired workers from company officials. Furthermore, employees haven’t been allowed to return to company headquarters here at 1412 Broadway to pick up their personal belongings.
“There’s been no communication from the officers [of LF Brands] to the employees,” said one former employee Wednesday.
In addition, chief restructuring officer Marvin Davis of the firm Grisanti, Galef & Goldress in Atlanta, who delivered the bad news via voice mail Christmas week, is no longer working at the firm, WWD has learned. He had been working on the company’s restructuring for three weeks in December.
Davis didn’t return a phone call to his Atlanta office seeking comment.
Rumors have been spreading among the employees that the owners — Three Cities Research and management — were trying to come up with a plan to pay employees their back wages.
“They’re trying to stave us off from a lawsuit until they file. Then it puts them in a better position. They’re dangling a carrot that they’re planning to pay us back wages, but there’s been no communication,” said the former employee, who requested anonymity. She said the company handbook clearly outlines all the benefits, such as severance, medical and vacation policies.
“You’re looking at over $1 million owed to the employees,” she said. She noted that some employees haven’t been reimbursed thousands of dollars for business trips, and others are getting their medical submissions bounced back to them. “Employees can’t pay their bills. They can’t even get out of their 401K. They need someone to sign off,” she said.
And what steams her most “is the fact that they’re getting away with it.”
“It’s unbelievable, the lack of rights employees have in cases like this,” she added.
Reached for comment, Michael Hsieh, president of LF International, part of Li & Fung, said, “Everyone feels so badly about what happened. They’re trying to work with the company’s lenders to see if there’s any way to address this issue. We’re trying to work out a funding plan for them. When the bank [CIT] doesn’t agree with our plan, then we have to re-submit it.”
Li & Fung, LF Brands’ largest creditor, handled the company’s fabric and manufacturing sourcing worldwide. For the past three months, Li & Fung had been virtually running the $120 million dress and sportswear company. As reported, 60 percent of LF Brands’ spring merchandise is currently en route from overseas, but LF Brands can’t pay for and accept it. Li & Fung was discussing the possibility of taking possession of the merchandise and shipping it themselves.
Hsieh said he didn’t have a specific date on when LF Brands would file for bankruptcy, but sources indicated it would be this week.
Officials at Three Cities Research couldn’t be reached for comment.
“It’s a terrible thing happening. We’re trying to be as supportive as we can at this point. We’re trying to arrange for them to get their stuff [out of their offices]. We have no employees right now. We don’t even have access to some of the floors until the funding is in place. We can’t allow anyone to come in. We have to work it out with the bank,” Hsieh said.
As for whether Marvin Davis was still working for the company, Hsieh said, “He is still officially an officer. We’re in a transition period. We’re working on having a new restructuring officer. He [Davis] is not in New York City, and we mutually agreed to find someone local.”
As for how Hsieh plans to communicate with LF Brands’ employees if he has something to offer them, he said he’ll have a phone chain. “People will get calls,” he said.