Lord & Taylor, the struggling department store company dating back to 1826, became the last retailer to file for bankruptcy protection on Sunday as the coronavirus outbreak hastens the demise of already faltering chains.
The chain was acquired last year by clothing rental start-up Le Tote in an unusual $ 100 million deal. Now, Le Tote and Lord & Taylor are both seeking Chapter 11 protection from their creditors in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.
The companies said in a filing on Sunday that they operated 38 sites, which had been temporarily closed since March 2020. A representative for Le Tote and Lord & Taylor did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Lord & Taylor, previously owned by Hudson’s Bay, the owner of Saks Fifth Avenue, had been struggling for years. The Hudsons Bay chief executive said the chain was in the middle ground between retailers, neither upscale luxury nor discounted clothing.
Hudsons Bay had sold New York’s iconic flagship building to WeWork and, at one point, even started selling its products on the Walmarts website.
Then came the Le Tote deal, which was an unexpected bet from a San Francisco tech startup. The Tote agreed to pay $ 100 million in cash for the Lord & Taylors brand and inventory and to take control of 38 stores and the chains’ online operations. But Hudsons Bay would continue to own the Lord & Taylors real estate and cover Le Totes’ rent in those properties for three years. The agreement was concluded last November.
The Tote planned to revive Lord & Taylor and expand his own fortune by persuading his 30-something townspeople to visit chain stores and have Lord & Taylor’s main customer try out, a suburban woman in his mid-life. 50 years. The Tote.
But that plan has been complicated by the coronavirus outbreak, which has had a disproportionate effect on physical retailers, especially those who have been forced to close stores amid state and city lockdowns.
Since the beginning of May, a number of well-known companies have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy to deleverage and get out of costly leases, including Neiman Marcus, J. Crew, JC Penney, Brooks Brothers and the owner of ‘Ann Taylor and Loft.
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