There’s trouble at Lord & Taylor.
Several sources told WWD late Tuesday afternoon that the venerable department store has been firing its executives at the headquarter offices in Brookfield Place in lower Manhattan, and may be headed for liquidation.
“They’re firing everyone from the president, buyers, assistant buyers down to the clericals,” said one source familiar with the company. The source added that store operations and finance executives are being retained to enable a possible liquidation, which couldn’t be orchestrated until the coronavirus subsides and stores can reopen. An internal conference call involving a wide spectrum of the team was held Tuesday.
Another source, however, said L&T employees were being furloughed like Macy’s Inc., Neiman Marcus Group, Kohl’s Corp. and other major retailers did this week, though L&T had discontinued health benefits while other retailers kept the health benefits intact. Furloughs could be the case at L&T with workers who would be needed to man stores in the event of a liquidation.
E-mails to the press office of Le Tote, the Stockton, Calif.-based fashion rental subscription company that owns Lord & Taylor, were not responded to late Tuesday afternoon.
It wasn’t clear whether Le Tote would file for bankruptcy, and then orchestrate a liquidation.
Like other major retailers, Lord & Taylor already closed its stores due to the coronavirus. While the health crisis has hurt Lord & Taylor, the department store has for years been among the weakest performers in the sector.
The coronavirus is pushing other retailers into dire straits, notably J.C. Penney, another industry underperformer, as well as Neiman Marcus, which as reported in WWD last week, is preparing for a possible bankruptcy, which some sources see happening in mid-April.
In August 2019, the Hudson’s Bay Co. sold Lord & Taylor to Le Tote for $75 million in cash. Earlier, HBC had shut down the Lord & Taylor flagship on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, sold it to WeWork, which in turn formed a deal to sell the property to Amazon.
Le Tote acquired the Lord & Taylor brand, including its intellectual property, digital channels and inventory and assumed operations of its 38 remaining stores. In the deal, HBC got about a 25 percent stake in Le Tote, and a right to designate two members to Le Tote’s board.
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