Barneys New York to close stores as it files for bankruptcy protection

Chapter 11 will allow chain to stay open while it negotiates with landlords, seeks sale of business

Photograph: Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

Photograph: Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

 

Barneys New York filed for bankruptcy protection from creditors and laid out plans to shutter most of its stores after getting squeezed by rising rents and fewer visitors to its luxury fashion boutiques.

The Chapter 11 filing allows the department-store chain to stay open while it seeks to sell a slimmed-down business and negotiate with its landlords. The company, owned by billionaire investor Richard Perry, said it has secured $75 million (€67 million) in new capital from affiliates of Hilco Global and Gordon Brothers Group to help meet its financial commitments.

“Like many in our industry, Barneys New York’s financial position has been dramatically impacted by the challenging retail environment and rent structures that are excessively high relative to market demand,” chief executive Daniella Vitale said in a statement yesterday.

The move had been telegraphed for several weeks as the retailer sought to avert bankruptcy by finding a partner or buyer. Barneys said its stores on Madison Avenue and downtown New York City will remain open, as well as flagship locations in Beverly Hills, San Francisco and Boston.

Two Barneys Warehouse locations will also stay open, and online operations will continue to operate. Among locations slated for closure include stores in Chicago, Las Vegas and Seattle, in addition to five smaller concept stores and seven Barneys Warehouse locations.

“Aside from the high price tags on goods, this department store faces the same challenges as any department store,” George Angelich, partner at restructuring law firm Arent Fox, said in an interview before the filing. As rents increase and consumers shift to buying online, “it becomes very challenging to maintain profitability,” said Mr Angelich, who isn’t involved in the case.

Prior bust

Founded as a men’s retailer in 1923 in Manhattan, Barneys became the icon of high fashion and innovation for women and men in the 1970s. It went bankrupt once before in 1996, after a falling out with a Japanese partner.

Barneys sought to downsize the Madison Avenue store to reduce the annual rent, which tripled this year, Bloomberg previously reported. The retailer was working on a restructuring plan with advisers at MIII Partners and lawyers at Kirkland and Ellis.

The chain listed assets of $100-$500 million and estimated liabilities of between $100 million and $500 million, according to federal court papers filed in US Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York. – Bloomberg