Brooks Brothers files for bankruptcy in work from home era

Company hopes to find a buyer and avoid liquidation

Brooks Brothers was founded as a family business in 1818. Photograph: The New York TImes

Brooks Brothers was founded as a family business in 1818. Photograph: The New York TImes

 

Brooks Brothers, the two-centuries-old purveyor of American business wear, is to file for bankruptcy protection in the US, becoming the latest venerable retailer pushed over the edge by the coronavirus pandemic.

The New York-based company, known for its upmarket attire once sported by everyone from Abraham Lincoln to John F Kennedy, said it would file for Chapter 11 protection in Delaware on Wednesday. The company has an outlet in Kildare Village.

Brooks Brothers said it had secured $75 million (€66 million) in financing to tide it through the bankruptcy as it intends to find a buyer and avoid liquidation.

The company was founded as a family business in 1818 by Henry Sands Brooks and is headquartered on Madison Avenue in Manhattan. It is now privately held by the Italian businessman Claudio Del Vecchio, whose father is the founder of the Luxottica eyewear group.

Mr Del Vecchio took over as chairman and chief executive of Brooks Brothers after buying the business from Marks and Spencer in 2001 for a fraction of what the UK retailer had paid for it.

Strategic review

The company, which has about 500 stores globally and employs 4,000 people, had already been conducting a strategic review over the past year as it sought to modernise its brand. A collapse in sales during the pandemic took a heavy toll and it had already decided to close about 50 stores.

“We are seeking this protection and selling the business to ensure Brooks Brothers can survive and thrive,” it said in a statement. – Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2020