Retail bankruptcies are likely to pile up as key deadlines are missed and business evaporates.
Sources said Friday that the Neiman Marcus Group could file for bankruptcy as soon as Sunday, though there is no confirmation on that. The company defaulted on $78.6 million in interest payments that were due April 15, but the luxury retailer did send out some payments owed vendors last week, at least partial payments, possibly to maintain good relations with key vendors in the aftermath of what’s expected to be a Chapter 11 filing.
But financial and retail sources indicate a bankruptcy is a matter of when. “They just have to negotiate the timing,” said one source.
NMG has hired the Boston Consulting Group to assist in the restructuring.
J.C. Penney missed a $12 million interest payment that was also due April 15, and has a 30-day grace period on that, while restructuring options, including a possible bankruptcy, are being explored.
J. Crew Group, seen as another likely bankruptcy, last March reached an agreement with lenders, providing additional time to consider strategic alternatives designed to improve its balance sheet, reduce debt and elevate future prospects, including a Madewell public offering. As required, lenders gave JCG their consent for the IPO but only up until April 14, when the consent could have been pulled.
J. Crew Group, which has $1.7 billion in long-term debt, saw the Madewell IPO as a way to raise money to pay down J. Crew Group debt and shore up operations, while spotlighting the value in Madewell. However, an IPO in the current economic environment is not viable. Additionally, the J. Crew brand last year continued to suffer declines and market share losses, struggling amid turnaround efforts.
The Ascena Retail Group, which operates Ann Taylor, Loft, Justice, Lou & Grey, Lane Bryant and Catherines, and Brooks Brothers are also struggling.
However, it’s not all doom and gloom in retail, even in the department store sector.
Nordstrom amended its $800 million revolving line of credit and closed on its 8.75 percent secured debt offering of $600 million, reflecting some confidence in the retailer within the financial community. “These actions provide additional liquidity and flexibility in response to uncertainty related to the novel coronavirus,” the company said Thursday.
Under the terms of the amendment, the revolving line of credit will be secured primarily by inventory during periods when its leverage ratio exceeds four times or its credit ratings drop below investment grade. During this period, minimum liquidity thresholds will be applied.
Nordstrom exited fiscal 2019 with $850 million in cash. In response to COVID-19, the company previously announced suspension of quarterly cash dividends and share repurchases. It is also cutting more than $500 million in operating expenses, capital expenditures and working capital, including the ongoing efforts to realign inventory to sales trends.
“The actions we are taking are to position ourselves best for our employees, customers and shareholders. This includes proactive steps to strengthen our financial flexibility, including our recent debt offering,” said chief financial officer Anne Bramman. “These measures will provide with additional liquidity and flexibility not just for the short-term but over the longer term as we emerge from this unprecedented time.”
Macy’s Inc. stock rose 3 percent to $5.92 Friday on reports the company is seeking a financial recovery plan, not a bankruptcy, though Macy’s shares could have ridden the surge in the stock market last week amid talk among politicians that the economy could begin to start opening up gradually next month in some parts of the country. Macy’s owns valuable real estate which could be monetized to shore up its balance sheet, when the economy opens up again and recovers from the shutdown.