New Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Filing -- FTD Companies Inc.

FTD Companies Inc.

June 3, 2019

After the issuance of Illinois-based FTD Companies Inc’s ($FTD) most recent 10-K, everyone and their mother — well, other than maybe United Parcel Service Inc. ($UPS)* — knew that FTD was headed towards a bankruptcy court near you. It arrived.

The company is a floral and gifting company operating primarily within the United States and Canada; it (and its affiliated debtors) specializes in providing floral, specialty foods, gift and related products to consumers (direct-to-consumer), retail florists and other retail locations. The company basks in the glory of its “iconic” “Mercury Man” logo, which it alleges is “one of the most recognized logos in the world.” Seriously? Hyperbole much?🙄

Maybe…not? This, for any sort of history nerd, is actually pretty interesting:

Originally called "Florists' Telegraph Delivery Association," FTD was the world's first flowers-by-wire service and has been a leader in the floral and gifting industry for over a century. The Debtors' story began in 1910 when thirteen American retail florists agreed to exchange orders for out-of-town deliveries by telegraph, thereby eliminating prohibitively lengthy transit times that made sending flowers to friends and relatives in distant locations almost impossible. The idea revolutionized the industry, and soon independent florists all over America were telegraphing and telephoning orders to each other using the FTD network. In 1914, FTD adopted the Roman messenger god as its logo and, in 1929, copyrighted the Mercury Man® logo as the official trademark for FTD.

This company is only slightly younger than Sears (1893). And so this bankruptcy filing is a bigger deal than meets the eye. This company revolutionized flower delivery, regularly innovating and expanding its reach over its decades in business. In 1923, FTD expanded to Britain. In 1946, FTD, FTD Britain and a European clearinghouse established what is now known as Interflora to sell flowers-by-wire around the world. In 1979, the company launched an electronic system to link florists together; and in 1994, it launched its first e-commerce site. In other words, this company always tackled the “innovator’s dilemma” head on, pivoting regularly over time to seize opportunities whenever and wherever they emerged. For quite some time, this was, at least for some time, an impressive operation — seemingly always one step ahead of disruption. WE ALL LIKELY TAKE FOR GRANTED JUST HOW EASY IT IS TO DELIVER FLOWERS THESE DAYS. These guys helped make it all possible. If ever a debtor was in need of a hype man, this company is it. A read of the bankruptcy papers barely gives you a sense for the history and legacy of this company.

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Interestingly, for much of its history, the company was actually a not-for-profit. That’s right: a not-for-profit. Per the company:

For the majority of its existence, FTD operated as a not-for-profit organization run by its member florists. With the florists as its core, the Debtors' legacy business provided a powerful mix of a "local," authentic, and bespoke product, broad geographic range, and a commitment to exacting standards of quality and service. Moreover, the Debtors historically were devoted to creating an optimal product for their florist network, including through investment in innovation and technology and marketing the FTD brand and the floral industry overall. As a result, florists sought out FTD membership, and the FTD brand had (and still has) significant caché in the industry.

Amazing!

So what the hell happened? Well, the blood-sucking capitalists arrived knocking. Now-defunct Perry Capital acquired FTD in 1994 (the same year that the company established its web presence) and converted the company into a for-profit corporation. In 2000, the company IPO’d and in 2008, United Online (now owned by B.Riley Financial $RILY), merged with the company in a $800mm transaction consummated just prior to the financial crisis. Then, in 2013, FTD spun off from United Online, once again becoming a publicly-traded company on the NASDAQ exchange.

Throughout the company’s evolution, it pursued a strategy of dominating the floral market via strategic acquisitions (and, in the process, drew antitrust scrutiny a handful of times). In 2006, it acquired Interflora and in 2014, it acquired Provide Commerce LLC (ProFlowers) in a $430mm cash and equity transaction. The purchase was predicated upon uniting FTD’s B2B “Florist” business (read: FTD-to-retail-florists) and B2C (read: FTD-direct-to-consumer) businesses with Provide Commerce’s B2C model in such a way that would (i) offer customers greater choice, (ii) provide the company with expanded geographic and demographic reach, and (iii) promote cross-selling possibilities. Per the company:

…FTD anticipated that the Provide Acquisition would generate significant cost synergies through efficiencies in combined operations.

Ah, synergies. Is there anything more romantic than the thought of ever-elusive synergies?

The company incurred $120-200mm of debt to finance the transaction.** You know where this is headed. If not, well, please allow the company to spell it out for you:

Though the Provide Business Units have increased the Debtors' revenue (the Provide Business Units currently contribute more than 50% of the Debtors' total revenue) … certain shifts in the market, technological changes, and improvident strategic outcomes in connection with the implementation of the Provide Acquisition combined to (a) frustrate expectations regarding the earnings of the combined entity and (b) impair the Debtors' ability to refinance near-term maturities, which has driven the Debtors' need to commence these chapter 11 cases.

That sure escalated quickly. 😬

Let’s take a moment here, however, to appreciate what the company attempted to do. In the spirit of its long-time legacy of getting out ahead of disruption, the company identified a competitor that was quickly disrupting the floral business. Per the company:

ProFlowers had entered the floral industry as a disruptor by reimagining floral delivery to consumers. Unlike the Debtors' "asset-light" B2B business model, ProFlowers took ownership of the floral inventory and fulfilled orders directly through a company-operated supply chain. By sourcing finished bouquets directly from farms, limiting product selection, pricing strategically into the consumer demand curve, and leveraging analytically-driven direct response marketing to generate large volumes at peak periods (i.e., Valentine's Day and Mother's Day), ProFlowers appealed to a broad market of consumers who wanted an efficient order process coupled with lower cost purchases.

There’s more:

In addition to these potential opportunities, FTD also viewed the Provide Acquisition as the means to strategically position itself for success within a changing industry. At the time of the Provide Acquisition, the disruptive impact of ProFlowers was perceived as a threat to traditional business models within the floral industry (and to the Florist Member Network specifically). FTD was concerned that, if it failed to adapt and embrace shifting industry paradigms, competitors would take advantage and acquire ProFlowers to FTD's detriment. Accordingly, FTD effected the Provide Acquisition.

We clown on companies all of the time for failing to heed the signs of disruption. But, that’s not actually the case here. This company was, seemingly, on its game. Where it failed, however, was with the post-acquisition integration. It’s awfully hard to realize synergies when businesses effectively run as independent entities. Per the company:

In particular, a number of key post-acquisition targets, such as (a) floral brand alignment, (b) necessary technological investments in the combined business (e.g., the consolidation of technology/ecommerce platforms), and (c) the integration of marketing and business teams, have lagged. As a result, both the Provide Commerce and the Debtors' legacy brands suffered from internal friction and suboptimal structures within the Debtors' enterprise.

And while the company failed to integrate Provide Commerce, the industry never stopped evolving. Competitors didn’t just take the acquisition as a sign that they ought to fold up their tents and relinquish the flower industry to FTD. F*ck no. To the contrary, this is where…wait for it…AMAZON INC. ($AMZN) ENTERS THE PICTURE:***

While the Debtors struggled to unify their businesses and implement the Provide Acquisition, the floral industry – and consumer expectations – continued to evolve. Following the example set by ProFlowers, other companies began to deliver farm-sourced fresh bouquets directly to customers, increasing competition in the B2C space. In addition, the expanding influence of e-commerce platforms like Amazon transformed customer expectations, particularly with respect to ease of experience and the fast, free delivery of goods. Given the perishable and delicate nature of the product, delivery and service fees were standard in the floral industry. As e-commerce companies trained consumers to expect free or nominal cost delivery, floral service fees became anathema to many customers.

Well, Amazon AND venture capital-backed floral startups (i.e., The Bouqs Company - $43mm of VC funding) that could absorb losses in the name of customer acquisition.

The company also blames a significant number of trends that we’ve covered here in PETITION for its demise. Like, for instance, increased shipping and online marketing costs (long Facebook Inc. ($FB)), low barriers to entry for other DTC businesses (long Shopify Inc. ($SHOP)), and “the growing presence of grocers and mass merchants providing low-cost floral products and chocolate-dipped strawberries during peak holidays” (long Target Inc., ($T)Walmart Inc. ($WMT)Trader Joe’s, etc.).

Collectively, market pressures contributed to declining sales and decreased order volumes, impairing the B2C businesses' ability to leverage and capitalize on scale.

In other words, (a) chocolate-dipped strawberries have no f*cking moat whatsoever and (b) as with all other things retail, this is a perfect storm story that is best explained by factors beyond just the f*cking “Amazon Effect” (the most obvious one being: a ton of debt).

Consequently, the company has been mired in a year-plus-long process of triage; it tried to cap-ex its way out of problems, but that didn’t work; it brought in new leadership but…well…you see how that turned out; it attempted to “reinvent” its user experience to combat its techie VC-backed upstart competitors with no results; and, it sought to optimize efficiencies. None of this could stem the tide of underperformance, bolster liquidity, and, ultimately, prevent debt covenant issues. The company currently has $149.4mm of secured indebtedness on its balance sheet (comprised of a $57.4mm term loan and $92mm under a revolving credit facility). The company reports approximately $72.4mm of unsecured debt owed to providers of goods and services.

In a strange fit of irony, it was the most romantic holiday of the calendar year that spelled doom for FTD. The company’s Valentine’s Day 2018 was pathetic: aggregate consumer order volume declined 5% and, even when people did use FTD, the average order size fell by 3%.

Valentine’s Day 2019 was no better. The company materially underperformed projections again. In addition to constraining liquidity further, this had the added effect of cooling any interest prospective buyers might have in the company pre-bankruptcy.

So, where are we now?

The crown jewel of the company is the company’s B2B retail business. This segment generated $150.3mm in revenue and $42.7mm in operating income in 2018. Operating margin is approximately 30%. The B2C business (including FTD.com), on the other hand, lost $4.6mm in ‘18 (on $727.9mm of revenue) and had -1% operating margin in 2018. (PETITION Note: while these numbers are in many respects abysmal, its fun to think that if they belonged, sans debt, to one of those VC-backed upstarts, they’s probably be WAY GOOD ENOUGH for the company to IPO in today’s environment…flowers-as-a-service anyone?). Clearly, there is nothing “iconic” about this brand outside of the floral network/community.

Anywho, the company is selling the company for parts. On Mary 31, the company effectuated a sale of Interflora for $59.5mm. On June 2, the company entered into an asset purchase agreement with Nexus Capital Management LP for the purchase of certain FTD assets and the ProFlowers business for $95mm. It also entered into non-binding letters of intent to sell other assets, including Shari’s Berries to Farids & Co. LLC (which is owned by the founder of Edible Arrangements LLC, the gnarliest company we’ve ever encountered when it comes to gifts.).

All of which is to say, R.I.P. FTD. We’ll be sure to send flowers. From Bouqs.

*Why are we picking on UPS? It is listed as the largest unsecured creditor to the tune of $23.2mm. Surely they’ll be clamoring for “critical vendor” status given the core function they provide to FTD’s business.

**At one point the papers say, $120mm, at another $200mm.

***We didn’t actually realize this but, yes, of course you can buy fresh flowers on Amazon.

  • Jurisdiction: D. of Delaware (Judge Silverstein)

  • Capital Structure:

    • Secured Indebtedness:

      • $92mm Revolver

      • $57.4mm Term Loan

    • Unsecured Indebtedness

      • $72.4mm of Various Trade Claims

  • Professionals:

    • Legal: Jones Day (Heather Lennox, Brad Erens, Thomas Wilson, Caitlin Cahow) & (local) Richards Layton & Finger PA (Daniel DeFranceshi, Paul Heath, Brett Haywood, Megan Kinney)

    • Financial Advisor/CRO: AlixPartners LLP (Alan Holtz, Scott Tandberg, Jason Muscovich, Job Chan, Bassaam Fawad, J.C. Chang)

    • Investment Banker: Moelis & Company & Piper Jaffray Companies

    • Claims Agent: Omni Management Group (*click on the link above for free docket access)

  • Other Parties in Interest:


🛌New Chapter 11 Bankruptcy & CCAA Filing - Hollander Sleep Products LLC🛌

Hollander Sleep Products LLC

May 19, 2019

Florida-based private equity owned Hollander Sleep Products LLC and six affiliates (including one Canadian affiliate) have filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy in the Southern District of New York. The debtors are “the largest bed pillow and mattress pad manufacturer in North America.” The debtors produce pillows, comforters and mattress pads for the likes of Ralph Lauren, Simmons, Beautyrest, Nautica and Calvin Klein; their products are available at major retailers like Costco Wholesale Corporation ($COST), Kohl’s Corporation ($KSS), Walmart Inc. ($WMT) and Target Inc. ($TGT) and with the Marriott International Inc. ($MAR) chain of hotels; they have a main showroom in New York City, nine manufacturing facilities throughout the US and Canada, and a sourcing, product development and quality control office in China. Speaking of China, 60% of the debtors’ top 10 creditors are Chinese companies.

Why bankruptcy? Interestingly, the debtors colorfully ask, “How Did We Get Here?” And the answer appears to be a combination of (a) “[r]ecent substantial price increases on materials” like fiber, down and feathers, (b) acquisition integration costs, (c) too much competition in a low margin space, (d) employee wage increases “as a result of natural wage inflation and the tight job market” and (e) too much leverage. The debtors burned through $20mm in the last year on material cost increases alone (it opted NOT to pass price increases on to the consumer), straining liquidity to the point that, at the time of filing, the company had less than $1mm of cash on hand.

With the filing, the debtors seek to restructure approximately $166.5mm of term debt, effectuating a debt-for-equity swap in the new reorganized entity (plus participation in a $30mm exit facility). 100% of the debtors’ term lenders support the plan. As does lender and equity sponsor, Sentinel Capital Partners LLC. That doesn’t necessarily mean, however, that they truly want to own the post-reorg company. Indeed, the debtors have indicated that while they march towards plan confirmation (which they say will be in four months), they will also entertain the possibility of a sale of the company to a third-party. These dual-track chapter 11 cases are all the rage these days, see, e.g., Shopko.

If approved by the bankruptcy court, the bankruptcy will be funded by a $118mm DIP credit facility which will infuse the debtors with $28mm in incremental new money and roll-up the debtors’ prepetition asset-backed first priority credit facility.

The debtors note that “the sleep industry as a whole is both healthy and growing. Market trends favor healthy lifestyle sectors, and the basic bedding segment is generally recession resilient.” We have no quibble with either comment. The company believes that by, among other things, (i) delevering its balance sheet, (ii) gaining access to new capital, (iii) engaging in selective price increases, (iv) implementing material efficiencies, (v) streamlining manufacturing, and (vi) building out their e-commerce channel, it will have a more sustainable path forward. Whether that path will be taken at the direction of their lenders or a strategic buyer remains to be seen.

  • Jurisdiction: S.D. of New York (Judge Wiles)

  • Capital Structure: $125mm ABL ($43mm funded), $166.5mm term loan

  • Professionals:

    • Legal: Kirkland & Ellis LLP (Joshua Sussberg, Christopher Greco, Joseph Graham, Andrew McGaan, Laura Krucks)

    • Board of Directors: Eric Bommer, Michael Fabian, Steve Cumbow, Chris Baker

    • Disinterested Director: Matthew Kahn

      • Legal: Proskauer Rose LLP

    • Financial Advisor: Carl Marks Advisory Group LLC (Mark Pfefferle)

    • Investment Banker: Houlihan Lokey Capital Inc. (Saul Burian)

    • Claims Agent: Omni Management Group (*click on the link above for free docket access)

  • Other Parties in Interest:

    • Prepetition and ($90mm) DIP ABL Agent: Wells Fargo Bank NA

      • Legal: Goldberg Kohn Ltd. (Randall Klein, Prisca Kim) & (local) Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP (Laura Metzger, Peter Amend)

    • ($28mm) DIP Term Loan Agent:

5/2/19, #2

New Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Filing - Z Gallerie LLC

Z Gallerie LLC

March 10, 2019

In January's "What to Make of the Credit Cycle. Part 25. (Long Warning Signs)," we discussed the leveraged loan market and, among many other things, highlighted the then-recent reports that KKR was planning to cut its leveraged loan exposure.

It seems pretty safe to say that this decision was partially informed by KKR's recent experience managing the $2b ex-Blackstone loan fund, Franklin Square Investment Corp. According to reporting by The Financial Times back in December, the Franklin Square fund (now FS-KKR Capital Corp) wrote down five loans between April and December last year. That must be lovely news for investors in the publicly-traded business development corporation ($FSK). Per the FT:

"Executives at Blackstone’s GSO credit arm approved the original loans. But KKR is now responsible for collecting the cash and assessing the loans’ value, and has taken a much gloomier view of their prospects. It has placed 28 percent of the portfolio on a list of deals that require close monitoring or are at risk of losing money, according to securities filings.  

'KKR is a formidable group, but they probably weren’t anticipating the losses that came forth in the GSO book,' said Finian O’Shea, an analyst who covers private credit funds for Wells Fargo."

Strangely, this is obviously good news for professionals with restructuring experience:

"KKR’s credit division has been hiring restructuring specialists to beef up a dedicated team charged with salvaging value from troubled investments — a move that executives there say was planned when the FS-KKR portfolio began to deteriorate. KKR declined to comment, as did the fund’s co-manager, Franklin Square Investments."

Those specialists might get increasingly busy. FSK owned, as of December 31, 2018, first lien loans in Acosta Inc. (written down by the BDC's board to "fair value" from $19.2mm to $11.8mm), Charlotte Russe (yikes), CTI Foods (which was written down by $900k), and Z Gallerie (which had been written down from $31.9mm to $11.3mm). It also owns second lien paper in Belk Inc. (written down from $119.1mm to $94.7mm), CTI Foods, and Spencer Gifts LLC (written down from $30mm to $25.6mm). And subordinated debt in Sungard (written down by 80%). The BDC's equity holdings in Charlotte Russe and Nine West are now obviously worthless. 

Lots of people are focused on BDCs given lending standards during this long bull run. If that portfolio is any indication, they should be. 

*****

Speaking of Z Gallerie, it filed for bankruptcy last weekend in the District of Delaware. It is a specialty-niche furniture retailer that has 76 stores across select states in the US. And this is its second trip into bankruptcy in 10 years. While we think that's too large a spread to really be a "chapter 22," its an ignominious feat nonetheless. 

So another retailer in bankruptcy. We're all getting bored of this. And we're also getting bored of private equity firms helping drive companies into the ground. In this instance, Brentwood Associates, a $2.4b Los Angeles-based private equity purchased a 70% stake in the company in 2014 (and took two seats on the company's board of directors). At the time, Brentwood had this to say about the transaction:*

"Z Gallerie is a differentiated retailer in the home furnishings market with a very unique merchandise assortment. We see a significant opportunity to accelerate growth of the current retail store base."

But…well...not so much. This statement by the company's CRO is a pretty damning assessment of Brentwood's claim that they "build[] category-defining businesss through sustained, accelerated growth”:

"Following a transaction in 2014 in which the Zeidens sold majority control of Z Gallerie to Brentwood Associates (“Brentwood”), Z Gallerie’s overall performance has declined significantly. The reasons for these declines are mostly self-imposed: (i) a store footprint expansion did not meet performance targets, (ii) the addition of the Atlanta distribution center disrupted operations and increased costs, and (iii) the failure to timely invest enough capital in their e-commerce platform limited its growth. These missteps were exacerbated by macroeconomic trends in the brick and mortar retail industry and lower housing starts. As a result, net revenue and EBITDA declined during fiscal year 2018. With Z Gallerie’s current cash balances of less than $2 million, and no availability under its secured credit facilities, the commencement of these chapter 11 cases became necessary to ensure access to capital going forward."

 That's brutal. Something tells us that Z Gallerie is going to make a swift disappearance from Brentwood's website.

Anyway, the company includes all kinds of optimistic language in its bankruptcy filing papers about how, after it closes 17 stores and executes on its business plan, it will be poised for success. It intends to enhance its e-commerce (currently 20% of sales), revamp its Atlanta distribution center, launch social media campaigns (long Facebook), and better train its employees (long Toys R Us PTSD). The company claims numbers have already been on the upswing since the holidays, including February same-store sales up 5% YOY. 

Current optimism notwithstanding, make no mistake: this is yet another instance of value destruction. This is the company's balance sheet (at least some of which dates back to 2014 and is related to Brentwood's purchase):

Screen Shot 2019-03-13 at 9.15.20 AM.png

That $91mm senior secured term loan? Yeah, that's where KKR sits. 

The company has a commitment for a $28mm DIP credit facility from KeyBank which will effectively rollup the senior secured revolving loans and provide $8mm in new money. 

The company has already filed a "hot potato" plan of reorganization — in other words, the lenders will take the company if they have to, but they don't really want to, and so they're happy to pass it on — and have a banker actively trying to pass it on (Lazard Middle Market) — to some other schmuck who thinks they can give it a go. In other words, similar to the plan proposed earlier this year in the Shopko case, this plan provides for the equitization of the allowed secured revolver and term loan claims IF the company is otherwise unable to find a buyer to take it off their hands and pay down some of their loans with cash. The company filed bid procedures along with the plan; it does not have a stalking horse bidder lined up. The company estimates a 4 month timeline to complete its bankruptcy.

We can't imagine that KKR is stoked to own this company going forward. And we can only imagine what kind of projections the company will put forth to convince the court that this thing is actually feasible: the plan has a blank space for the exit facility so that exit structure is also apparently a work in progress.

In any event, given recent loan underwriting standards, KKR, and other BDCs, might want to get used to owning credits they never expected to. 

*Brentwood was represented in the transaction by Kirkland & Ellis LLP, now counsel to the company. The company drops in a footnote that any potential claims against Brentwood and its two directors will be conducted by Klehr Harrison Harvey Branzburg LLP, a firm we’re sure was hired with absolutely zero input by Kirkland and/or the two Brentwood directors. Two independent directors are currently sitting on the board.

  • Jurisdiction: District of Delaware (Judge: Laurie S. Silverstein)

  • Capital Structure: see above

  • Professionals:

    • Legal: Kirkland & Ellis LLP (Joshua Sussberg, Justin Bernbrock, Joshua Altman, Emily Kehoe) & (local) Klehr Harrison Harvey Branzburg LLP (Dominic Pacetti, Michael Yurkewicz)

    • Financial Advisor: Berkeley Research Group LLC (Mark Weinsten)

    • Investment Banker: Lazard Middle Market LLC (Jason Cohen)

    • Claims Agent: Bankruptcy Management Solutions, Inc. d/b/a/ Stretto (*click on the link above for free docket access)

  • Other Parties in Interest:

    • DIP Agent: Keybank NA

      • Legal: Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC (Mary Caloway, Mark Pfeiffer)

    • KKR Credit Advisors US LLC

      • Legal: Proskauer Rose LLP (Vincent Indelicato, Christ Theodoridis) & (local) Morris Nichols Arsht & Tunnell LLP (Robert Dehney, Matthew Talmo)

👢New Chapter 11 Bankruptcy & CCAA Filing - Payless👢

Payless Holdings LLC

February 18, 2019

Update coming on Wednesday.

  • Jurisdiction: E.D. of Missouri (Judge Surratt-States)

  • Professionals:

    • Legal: Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP (Ira Dizengoff, Meredith Lahaie, Kevin Zuzolo, Julie Thompson, Caitlin Griffin, Patrick Chen, Abid Qureshi) & (local) Armstrong Teasdale LLC (Richard Engel Jr., Erin Edelman, John Willard)

    • Legal (Canadian CCAA): Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP

    • Legal (Independent Managers): Seward & Kissel LLP

    • Board of Directors: Heath Freeman, Martin Wade, R. Joseph Fuchs, Scott Vogel, Patrick Bartels

    • Financial Advisor: Ankura Consulting Group LLC (Stephen Marotta, Adrian Frankum, Swapna Deshpande)

    • Investment Banker: PJ Soloman LP (Derek Pitts)

    • Asset Disposition Advisor: Malfitano Advisors LLC (Joseph Malfitano)

    • Liquidators: Great American Group LLC and Tiger Capital Group LLC

    • Corporate Communications Consultant: Reevemark LLC

    • Real Estate Advisors: A&G Realty Partners

    • CCAA Monitor: FTI Consulting Inc.

    • CCAA Monitor

      • Legal: Bennett Jones

    • Claims Agent: Prime Clerk LLC (*click on the link above for free docket access)

  • Other Parties in Interest:

    • Pre-petition ABL Agent: Wells Fargo NA

    • Pre-petition Term Agent: Cortland Products Corp.

🏠New Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Filing - Decor Holdings Inc.🏠

Decor Holdings Inc.

February 12, 2019

Source: https://www.robertallendesign.com

Source: https://www.robertallendesign.com

Privately-owned New York-based Decor Holdings Inc. (d/b/a The RAD Group and The Robert Allen Duralee Group) and certain affiliates companies filed for bankruptcy earlier this week in the Eastern District of New York. The debtors state that they are the second largest supplier of decorative fabrics and furniture to the design industry in the U.S., designing, manufacturing and selling decorative fabrics, wall coverings, trimmings, upholstered furniture, drapery hardware and accessories for both residential and commercial applications. All of which begs the question: do people still actually decorate with this stuff?!? In addition to private label product lines, the company represents six other furnishing companies, providing tens of thousands of sku options to design professionals and commercial customers. The company maintains a presence via showrooms in large metropolitan cities in the US and Canada as well as an agent showroom network in more than 30 countries around the world. In other words, for a company you’ve likely never heard of, they have quite the reach.

The debtors’ problems derive from a 2017 merger between the Duralee business and the Robert Allen business. Why? Well, frankly, it sounds like the merger between the two is akin to a troubled married couple that decides that having a kid will cure all of their ills. Ok, that’s a terrible analogy but in this case, both companies were already struggling when they decided that a merger between the two might be more sustainable. But, “[l]ike many industries, the textile industry has been hard hit by the significant decrease in consumer spending and was severely affected by the global economic downturn. As a result, the Debtors experienced declining sales and profitability over the last several years.” YOU MEAN THE PERCEIVED SYNERGIES AND COMBINED EFFICIENCIES DIDN’T COME TO FRUITION?!? Color us shocked.

Ok, we’re being a little harsh. The debtors were actually able to cut $10-12mm of annual costs out of the business. They could not, however, consolidate their separate redundant showroom spaces outside of bankruptcy (we count approximately 32 leases). Somewhat comically, the showroom spaces are actually located in the same buildings. Compounding matters was the fact that the debtors had to staff these redundant spaces and failed to integrate differing software and hardware systems. In an of themselves, these were challenging problems even without a macro overhang. But there was that too: “…due to a fundamental reduction of market size in the home furnishings market, sales plummeted industry wide and the Debtors were not spared.” Sales declined by 14% in each of the two years post-merger. (Petition Note: we can’t help but to think that this may be the quintessential case of big firm corporate partners failing to — out of concern that management might balk at the mere introduction of the dreaded word ‘bankruptcy’ and the alleged stigma attached thereto — introduce their bankruptcy brethren into the strategy meetings. It just seems, on the surface, at least, that the 2017 merger might have been better accomplished via a double-prepackaged merger of the two companies. If Mattress Firm could shed leases in its prepackaged bankruptcy, why couldn’t these guys? But what do we know?).

To stop the bleeding, the debtors have been performing triage since the end of 2018, shuttering redundant showrooms, stretching payables, and reducing headcount by RIF’ing 315 people. Ultimately, however, the debtors concluded that chapter 11 was necessary to take advantage of the breathing spell afforded by the “automatic stay” and pursue a going concern sale. To finance the cases, the debtors obtained a commitment from Wells Fargo Bank NA, its prepetition lender, for a $30mm DIP revolving credit facility of which approximately $6mm is new money and the remainder is a “roll-up” or prepetition debt (PETITION Note: remember when “roll-ups” were rare and frowned upon?). The use of proceeds will be to pay operating expenses and the costs and expenses of being in chapter 11: interestingly, the debtors noted that they’re administratively insolvent on their petition. 🤔

Here’s to hoping for all involved that a deep-pocked buyer emerges out of the shadows.

  • Jurisdiction: E.D. of New York (Judge Grossman)

  • Capital Structure: $23.7mm senior secured loan (Wells Fargo Bank NA), $5.7mm secured junior loan (Corber Corp.)

  • Professionals:

    • Legal: Hahn & Hesson LLP (Mark Power, Janine Figueiredo)

    • Conflicts Counsel: Halperin Battaglia Benzija LLP (Christopher Battaglia)

    • Financial Advisor: RAS Management Advisors LLC (Timothy Boates)

    • Investment Banker: SSG Capital Advisors LLC (J. Scott Victor)

    • Liquidator: Great American Group LLC

    • Claims Agent: Omni Management Group Inc. (*click on the link above for free docket access)

  • Other Professionals:

    • DIP Agent: Wells Fargo Bank NA

      • Legal: Otterbourg P.C. (Daniel Fiorillo, Jonathan Helfat)

    • Subordinated Noteholder: Corber Corp.

      • Legal: Pachulski Stang Ziehl & Jones LLP (John Morris, John Lucas)

New Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Filing - Things Remembered Inc.

Things Remembered Inc.

2/6/19

This has been a rough week for "out-of-court" restructurings in the retail space. On the heals of Charlotte Russe's collapse into bankruptcy after an attempted out-of-court solution, Things Remembered Inc. filed for bankruptcy in the District of Delaware on February 6, 2019. We recently wrote about Things Remembered here. Let's dig in a bit more. 

The 53-year old retailer filed with a stalking horse purchaser, Ensco Properties LLC, in line to purchase, subject to a tight 30-day timeframe, a subset of the company's store footprint and direct-sales business. The company writes in the most Trumpian-fashion imaginable:

"Although stores not acquired will need to close, the going-concern sale wills save hundreds of jobs and potentially many more and provide an improved, and significantly less risky, recovery to stakeholders." What does "potentially many more" mean? Don't they know how many people are employed at the locations being sold as well as corporate support? Seems like a Trumpian ad lib of corresponding inexactitude. But, whatever. 

What caused the need for bankruptcy?

"Like many other retailers, the Company has suffered from adverse macro-trends, as well as certain microeconomic operational challenges. Faced with these challenges, the Company initiated multiple go-forward operational initiatives to increase brick-and-mortar profitability, such as store modernization through elimination of paper forms and the addition of iPads to streamline the personalization and sale process, and by shuttering a number of underperforming locations. The Company also sought to bolster the Debtors’ online-direct sale business, including aggressive marketing to loyal customers to facilitate sales through online channels, attracting new customers via an expanded partnership with Amazon, and increasing service capabilities for the business-to-business customer segment."

Read that paragraph and then tell us that retail management teams (and their expensive advisors) have any real clue how to combat the ails confronting retail. Elimination of paper forms? Ipads? Seriously? Sure, the rest sounds sensible and comes right out of today's standard retail playbook, i.e., shutter stores, bolster online capabilities, leverage Amazon's distribution, tapping into "loyal customers," etc. We're surprised they didn't mention AR/VR, Blockchain, "experiential retail," pop-ups, advertising on scooters, loyalty programs, and all of the other trite retail-isms we've heard ad nauseum (despite no one actually proving whether any or all of those things actually drive revenue). 

The rest of the story is crazy familiar by this point. The "challenging operating environment" confronting brick-and-mortar and mall-based retail, specifically, led to missed sales targets and depressed profitability. Naturally there were operational issues that compounded matters and, attention Lenore Estrada (INSERT LINK), "…vendors have begun to place pressure on the supply chain cost structure by delaying or cancelling shipments until receiving payment." Insert cash on delivery terms here. Because that's what they should do when a customer is mid-flush. 

Anyway, shocker: negative cash flows persisted. Consequently, the company and its professionals commenced a marketing process that landed Enesco as stalking horse bidder. Enesco has committed to acquiring the direct-sales business (which constitutes 26% of all sales in 2018 and includes the e-commerce website, hq, fulfillment and distribution center in Ohio and related assets) and approximately 128 stores (subject to addition or subtraction, but a floor set at 50 store minimum). Store closings of approximately 220 stores and 30 kiosks commenced pre-petition. A joint venture between Hilco Merchant Resources LLC and Gordon Brothers Retail Partners LLC is leading that effort (which again begs the question as to how Gymboree is the only recent retailer that required the services of four "liquidators"). The purchase price is $17.5mm (subject to post-closing adjustments). $17.5mm is hardly memorable. That said, the company did have negative $4mm EBITDA so, uh, yeeeeeaaaaah. 

$18.7mm '19 revolving credit facility (Cortland Capital Markets Services LLC); $124.9mm 12% '20 TL. 

The capital structure represents the result of an August 30, 2016 out-of-court exchange that, let's be honest here, didn't do much other than incrementally lessen the debt burden, kick the can down the road and get some professionals paid. If this sounds familiar, it's because it's not all that different than Charlotte Russe in those respects. 

  • Jurisdiction: D. of Delaware (Judge Gross)

  • Capital Structure: $mm debt     

  • Company Professionals:

    • Legal: Kirkland & Ellis LLP (Christopher Greco, Derek Hunger, Angela Snell, Spencer Winters, Catherine Jun, Scott Vail, Mark McKane) & (local) Landis Rath & Cobb LLP (Adam Landis, Matthew McGuire, Kimberly Brown, Matthew Pierce)

    • Legal (Canada): Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP

    • Financial Advisor/CRO: Berkeley Research Group LLC (Robert Duffy, Brett Witherell)

    • Investment Bank: Stifel Nicolaus & Co. Inc. and Miller Buckfire & Co. LLC (James Doak)

    • Liquidators: Hilco Merchant Resources LLC and Gordon Brothers Retail Partners LLC

      • Legal: Pepper Hamilton LLP (Douglas Herman, Marcy McLaughlin)

    • Claims Agent: Prime Clerk LLC (*click on company name above for free docket access)

  • Other Parties in Interest:

    • Stalking Horse Purchaser: Enesco Properties LLC  (Balmoral Funds LLC)

      • Legal: Pachulski Stang Ziehl & Jones LLP (Jeffrey Pomerantz, Maxim Litvak, Joseph Mulvihill)

    • Lender: Cortland Capital Market Services LLC

      • Legal: Weil Gotshal & Manges LLP (David Griffiths, Lisa Lansio) & (local) Richards Layton & Finger PA (Daniel DeFranceschi, Zachary Shapiro)

    • Sponsor: KKR & Co.

    • Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors (Jewelry Concepts Inc., Gravotech Inc., Chu Kwun Kee Metal Manufactory, Brookfield Property REIT, Inc., Simon Property Group LP)

      • Legal: Kelley Drye & Warren LLP (Eric Wilson, Jason Adams, Kristin Elliott, Lauren Schlussel) & (local) Connolly Gallagher (N. Christopher Griffiths, Shaun Michael Kelly)

      • Financial Advisor: Province Inc. (Carol Cabello, Sanjuro Kietlinski, Jorge Gonzalez, Michael Martini)

New Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Filing - FULLBEAUTY Brands Holdings Corp.

FULLBEAUTY Brands Holdings Corp.

February 3, 2019

We’re going to regurgitate our report about FULLBEAUTY Brands Holdings Corp. from January 6th after the company publicly posted its proposed plan of reorganization and disclosure statement and issued a press release about its proposed restructuring. What follows is what we wrote then:


FULLBEAUTY Brands Inc., an Apax Partners’ disaster…uh, “investment”…will, despite earlier reports of an out-of-court resolution to the contrary, be filing for bankruptcy after all in what appears to be either a late January or an early February filing after the company completes its prepackaged solicitation of creditors. Back in May in “Plus-Size Beauty is a Plus-Size Sh*tfest (Short Apax Partners’ Fashion Sense),” we wrote:

Here’s some free advice to our friends at Apax Partners: hire some millennials. And some women. When you have 23 partners worldwide and only 1 of them is a woman (in Tel Aviv, of all places), it’s no wonder that certain women’s apparel investments are going sideways. Fresh off of the bankruptcies of Answers.com and rue21, another recent leveraged buyout by the private equity firm is looking a bit bloated: NY-based FullBeauty Brands, a plus-size direct-to-consumer e-commerce and catalogue play with a portfolio of six brands (Woman Within, Roamans, Jessica London, Brylane Home, BC Outlet, Swimsuits for All, and Eilos).

Wait. Hold up. Direct-to-consumer? Check. E-commerce? Check. Isn’t that, like, all the rage right now? Yes, unless you’re levered to the hilt and have a relatively scant social media presence. Check and check.

Per a press release on Thursday, the company has an agreement with nearly all of its first-lien-last out lenders, first lien lenders, second lien lenders and equity sponsors on a deleveraging transaction that will shed $900mm of debt from the company’s balance sheet. It also has a commitment for $30mm in new liquidity in the form of a new money term loan with existing lenders. Per Bloomberg:

About 87.5 percent of the common reorganized equity would go to first-lien lenders, 10 percent to second liens, and 2.5 percent to the sponsor, according to people with knowledge of the plan who weren’t authorized to speak publicly.

Which, in English, means that Oaktree Capital Group LLCGoldman Sachs Group Inc., and Voya Financial Inc. will end up owning this retailer. Your plus-sized clothing, powered by hedge funds. Apax and Charlesbank Capital, the other PE sponsor, stand to maintain 2.5% of the equity which, from our vantage point, appears rather generous (PETITION Note: there must be a decent amount of cross-holdings between the first lien and second lien debt for that to be the case). Here is the difference in capital structure:

Screen Shot 2019-02-04 at 7.06.26 PM.png

What’s the story here? Simply put, it’s just another retail with far too much leverage in this retail environment.

Screen Shot 2019-02-04 at 7.06.56 PM.png

Of course, there’s the obligatory product strategy, inventory control, and e-commerce excuses as well. Not to mention…wait for it…Amazon Inc ($AMZN)!

“In addition to these operational hurdles, FullBeauty has also faced competition from online retail giant Amazon, Inc. and retail chains, including Walmart Inc. and Kohl’s Corporation, that have recently entered the plus-size clothing space.”

Kirkland & Ellis LLPPJT Partners ($PJT) and AlixPartners represent the company.


We give bankruptcy professionals grief all of the time for what often appears to be fee extraction in various cases. In our view, there have been some pretty egregious examples of inefficiency in the system and, considering a number of our readers are management teams of distressed companies, we feel it’s imperative that we cure for a blatant information dislocation and help educate the masses. This, though, appears to be an extraordinary case. In the other direction.

The company’s professionals here propose to confirm the company’s plan of reorganization at the first day hearing of the case. As Bloomberg noted on Monday, this would “set a new record for emerging from court protection in under 24 hours.” Bloomberg reports:

The previous record for the fastest Chapter 11 process is held by Blue Bird Body Co., which exited bankruptcy in 2006 in less than two days. Fullbeauty and its advisers aim to beat that mark.

“We structured this deal as if bankruptcy never happened for our trade creditors, vendors and employees to avoid further disruption to the company,” attorney Jon Henes at Kirkland & Ellis, the company’s legal counsel, said in an interview. “In this situation, every day in court is another day of costs without any corresponding benefit.”

In fact, this case would be so quick that, as you read this (on Wednesday), Judge Drain may have already given the plan his blessing. This makes Roust Corporation Inc. (6 days) and Southcross Holdings (13 days) look like child’s play. For that reason — and that reason alone — we’ll forgive the company’s professionals for their blatant victory lap: it’s curious that Bloomberg had a completed interview ready to go at 9:26am on the morning of the company’s bankruptcy filing. Clearly Kirkland & Ellis LLP, PJT Partners LP ($PJT) and Houlihan Lokey Capital ($HL) want to milk this extraordinary result for all it’s worth. We can’t really blame them, truthfully. That is, unless and/or until the company violates the “Two Year Rule” a la Charlotte Russe.

Anyway, why so quick? Well, because they can: the entire capital structure is on board with the proposed plan and trade will ride through unimpaired and paid. All contracts will be assumed. There are no brick-and-mortar stores to deal with: this is a web and catalogue-based business. Like we said, this case is extraordinary. Per the Company:

It is in the best interest of the estates that the Debtors remain in bankruptcy for as short a time-period as possible. If FullBeauty is forced to remain in chapter 11 longer than necessary, it may be required to seek debtor in possession financing, which would cost the Debtors unnecessary bank fees and professional expenses. In addition, although January has been relatively smooth in terms of vendor outreach, FullBeauty expects that trade could contract very quickly if the company remains in chapter 11 longer than necessary—particularly because many vendors are in foreign jurisdictions and they do not understand the nuances of prepackaged cases versus longer prearranged or traditional chapter 11 cases. Every day that FullBeauty remains in chapter 11 results in cash spent that could go to developing the business.

Indeed, for once, it appears that the best interests of the debtor company were, indeed, heeded.*

*Which is not to say that we believe the out-of-court bills will be light.

  • Jurisdiction: S.D. of New York (Judge Drain)

  • Capital Structure: $mm debt     

  • Company Professionals:

    • Legal: Kirkland & Ellis LLP (Jonathan Henes, Emily Geier, George Klidonas, Rebecca Blake Chaikin, Nicole Greenblatt)

    • Independent Director: Mohsin Meghji

    • Financial Advisor: AlixPartners LLC

    • Investment Banker: PJT Partners LP (Jamie Baird)

    • Claims Agent: Prime Clerk LLC (*click on company name above for free docket access)

  • Other Parties in Interest:

    • Financial Sponsor (69.6%): Apax Partners LLP

      • Legal: Simpson Thatcher & Bartlett LLP (Elisha Graff, Nicholas Baker)

    • Financial Sponsor (26.4%): Charlesbank Capital Partners LLC

      • Legal: Goodwin Proctor LLP (William Weintraub, Joseph Bernardi Jr.)

    • ABL Agent & FILO Agent: JPMorgan Chase Bank NA

      • Legal: Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP (Darren Klein, Aryeh Falk)

    • First Lien Agent & Second Lien Agent: Wilmington Trust NA

      • Legal: Shipman & Goodman LLP (Nathan Plotkin, Eric Goldstein, Marie Pollio)

    • Ad Hoc Group of First Lien Term Loan Lenders

      • Legal: Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy LLP (Dennis Dunne, Gerard Uzzi, Nelly Almeida)

      • Financial Advisor: Ducera Partners

    • Ad Hoc Group of Second Lien Term Loan Lenders

      • Legal: Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison LLP (Paul Basta, Elizabeth McColm, Christopher Hopkins)

      • Financial Advisor: Houlihan Lokey Capital Inc. (Saul Burian)

Updated 2/4/19 at 7:03 CT

New Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Filing - Charlotte Russe Holding Inc.

Charlotte Russe Holding Inc.

February 3, 2019

San Diego-based specialty women’s apparel fast-fashion retailer Charlotte Russe Holding Inc. is the latest retailer to file for bankruptcy. The company has 512 stores in 48 U.S. states. The company owns a number of different brands that it sells primarily via its brick-and-mortar channel; it has some brands, most notably “Peek,” which it sells online and wholesale to the likes of Nordstrom.

The company’s capital structure consists of:

  • $22.8mm 6.75% ‘22 first lien revolving credit facility (ex-accrued and unpaid interest, expenses and fees)(Bank of America NA), and

  • $150mm 8.5% ‘23 second lien term loan ($89.3mm funded, exclusive of unpaid interest, expenses and fees)(Jefferies Finance LLC). The term loan lenders have first lien security interests in the company’s intellectual property.

The company’s trajectory over the last decade is an interesting snapshot of the trouble confronting the brick-and-mortar retail space. The story begins with a leveraged buyout. In 2009, Advent International acquired the debtors through a $380mm tender offer, levering up the company with $175mm in 12% subordinated debentures in the process. At the time, the debtors also issued 85k shares of Series A Preferred Stock to Advent and others. Both the debentures and the Preferred Stock PIK’d interest (which, for the uninitiated, means that the principal or base amounts increased by the respective percentages rather than cash pay interest or dividends being paid over time). The debtors later converted the Preferred Stock to common stock.

Thereafter, the debtors made overtures towards an IPO. Indeed, business was booming. From 2011 through 2014, the debtors grew considerably with net sales increased from $776.8mm to $984mm. During this period, in May of 2013, the debtors entered into the pre-petition term loan, used the proceeds to repay a portion of the subordinated debentures and converted the remaining $121.1mm of subordinated debentures to 8% Preferred Stock (held by Advent, management and other investors). In March 2014, the debtors and its lenders increased the term loan by $80mm and used the proceeds to pay a one-time dividend. That’s right folks: a dividend recapitalization!! WE LOVE THOSE. Per the company:

In May 2014, the Debtors paid $40 million in dividends to holders of Common Stock, $9.8 million in dividends to holders of Series 1 Preferred Stock, which covered all dividends thus far accrued, and paid $65.7 million towards the Series 1 Preferred Stock principal. The Debtors’ intention was to use a portion of the net proceeds of the IPO to repay a substantial amount of the then approximately $230 million of principal due on the Prepetition Term Loan.

In other words, Advent received a significant percentage of its original equity check back by virtue of its Preferred Stock and Common Stock holdings.

Guess what happened next? Well, after all of that money was sucked out of the business, performance, CURIOUSLY, began to slip badly. Per the company:

Following fifteen (15) consecutive quarters of increased sales, however, the Debtors’ performance began to materially deteriorate and plans for the IPO were put on hold. Specifically, gross sales decreased from $984 million in fiscal year 2014 with approximately $93.8 million in adjusted EBITDA, to $928 million in fiscal year 2017 with approximately $41.2 million in adjusted EBITDA. More recently, the Debtors’ performance has materially deteriorated, as gross sales decreased from $928 million in fiscal year 2017 with approximately $41.2 million in adjusted EBITDA, to an estimated $795.5 million in fiscal year 2018 with approximately $10.3 million in adjusted EBITDA.

Consequently, the company engaged in a year-long process of trying to address its balance sheet and/or find a strategic or financial buyer. Ultimately, in February 2018, the debtors consummated an out-of-court restructuring that (i) wiped out equity (including Advent’s), (ii) converted 58% of the term loan into 100% of the equity, (iii) lowered the interest rate on the remaining term loan and (iv) extended the term loan maturity out to 2023. Advent earned itself, as consideration for the cancellation of its shares, “broad releases” under the restructuring support agreement. The company, as part of the broader restructuring, also secured substantial concessions from its landlords and vendors. At the time, this looked like a rare “success”: an out-of-court deal that resulted in both balance sheet relief and operational cost containment. It wasn’t enough.

Performance continued to decline. Year-over-year, Q3 ‘18 sales declined by $35mm and EBITDA by $8mm. Per the company:

The Debtors suffered from a dramatic decrease in sales and in-store traffic, and their merchandising and marketing strategies failed to connect with their core demographic and outpace the rapidly evolving fashion trends that are fundamental to their success. The Debtors shifted too far towards fashion basics, did not effectively reposition their e-commerce business and social media engagement strategy for success and growth, and failed to rationalize expenses related to store operations to better balance brick-and-mortar operations with necessary e-commerce investments.

In the end, bankruptcy proved unavoidable. So now what? The company has a commitment from its pre-petition lender, Bank of America NA, for $50mm in DIP financing (plus $15mm for LOCs) as well as the use of cash collateral. The DIP will roll-up the pre-petition first lien revolving facility. This DIP facility is meant to pay administrative expenses to allow for store closures (94, in the first instance) and a sale of the debtors’ assets. To date, however, despite 17 potential buyers executing NDAs, no stalking horse purchaser has emerged. They have until February 17th to find one; otherwise, they’re required to pursue a “full chain liquidation.” Notably, the debtors suggested in their bankruptcy petitions that the estate may be administratively insolvent. YIKES. So, who gets screwed if that is the case?

Top creditors include Fedex, Google, a number of Chinese manufacturers and other trade vendors. Landlords were not on the top 30 creditor list, though Taubman Company, Washington Prime Group Inc., Simon Property Group L.P., and Brookfield Property REIT Inc. were quick to make notices of appearance in the cases. In total, unsecured creditors are owed approximately $50mm. Why no landlords? Timing. Despite the company going down the sh*tter, it appears that the debtors are current with the landlords (and filing before the first business day of the new month helps too). Not to be cynical, but there’s no way that Cooley LLP — typically a creditors’ committee firm — was going to let the landlords be left on the hook here.

And, so, we’ll find out within the next two weeks whether the brand has any value and can fetch a buyer. In the meantime, Gordon Brothers Retail Partners LLC and Hilco Merchant Resources LLC will commence liquidation sales at 90+ locations. We see that, mysteriously, they somehow were able to free up some bandwidth to take on an new assignment sans a joint venture with literally all of their primary competitors.

  • Jurisdiction: D. of Delaware (Judge Silverstein)

  • Capital Structure: $22.8mm 6.75% ‘22 first lien revolving asset-backed credit facility (ex-accrued and unpaid interest, expenses and fees)(Bank of America NA), $150mm 8.5% ‘23 second lien term loan ($89.3mm funded, exclusive of unpaid interest, expenses and fees)(Jefferies Finance LLC)

  • Company Professionals:

    • Legal: Cooley LLP (Seth Van Aalten, Michael Klein, Summer McKee, Evan Lazerowitz, Joseph Brown) & (local) Bayard PA (Justin Alberto, Erin Fay)

    • Independent Director: David Mack

    • Financial Advisor/CRO: Berkeley Research Group LLC (Brian Cashman)

    • Investment Banker: Guggenheim Securities LLC (Stuart Erickson)

    • Lease Disposition Consultant & Business Broker: A&G Realty Partners LLC

    • Liquidating Agent: Gordon Brothers Retail Partners LLC and Hilco Merchant Resources LLC

    • Liquidation Consultant: Malfitano Advisors LLC

    • Claims Agent: Donlin Recano & Company (*click on company name above for free docket access)

  • Other Parties in Interest:

    • DIP Lender ($50mm): Bank of America NA

      • Legal: Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP (Julia Frost-Davies, Christopher Carter) & (local) Richards Layton & Finger PA (Mark Collins)

    • Prepetition Term Agent: Jefferies Finance LLC

      • Legal: King & Spalding LLP (Michael Rupe, W. Austin Jowers, Michael Handler)

    • Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors (Valueline Group Co Ltd., Ven Bridge Ltd., Shantex Group LLC, Global Capital Fashion Inc., Jainson’s International Inc., Simon Property Group LP, Brookfield Property REIT Inc.)

      • Legal: Whiteford Taylor & Preston LLP (Christopher Samis, L. Katherine Good, Aaron Stulman, David Gaffey, Jennifer Wuebker)

      • Financial Advisor: Province Inc. (Edward Kim)

Updated 2/14/19 at 1:41 CT

𝟚𝟚 New Chapter 22 Bankruptcy Filing - Gymboree Group Inc. 𝟚𝟚

Gymboree Group, Inc.

January 16, 2019

Screen Shot 2019-01-19 at 8.27.10 AM.png

So, uh, THAT didn’t age well.

Let’s be clear here: the Gymboree situation is an unmitigated disaster and, in our view, has not — in the wake of all of the news surrounding Sears Holding Corporation ($SHLDQ) and PG&E Corporation ($PCG) — gotten the attention it deserves. That’s where we come in. Let’s hop in the DeLorean.

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  • Jurisdiction: E.D. of Virginia

  • Capital Structure: $79.1mm senior secured ABL (Bank of America NA), $44.5mm LOCs under ABL, $89mm TL

  • Company Professionals:

    • Legal: Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy LLP (Dennis Dunne, Evan Fleck, Michael Price) & (local) Kutak Rock LLP (Michael Condyles, Peter Barrett, Jeremy Williams, Brian Richardson)

    • Independent Directors: Eugene Davis, Scott Vogel

    • Financial Advisor/CRO: Berkeley Research Group LLC (Steven Coulombe)

    • Investment Banker: Stifel Nicolaus & Co. & Miller Buckfire & Co.

    • Claims Agent: Prime Clerk LLC (*click on company name above for free docket access)

  • Other Parties in Interest:

    • Gymboree Canada

      • Legal: Norton Rose Fulbright Canada LLP

      • Proposal Trustee: KPMG Inc.

        • Legal: Osler Hoskin & Harcourt LLP

    • ABL Agent: Bank of America NA

      • Legal: Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP

    • Prepetition Term Loan Agent (Goldman Sachs Specialty Lending Group Inc.) & Term DIP Agent and Term Lender (Special Situations Investing Group Inc.)

      • Legal: King & Spalding (W. Austin Jowers, Christopher Boies, Michael Handler) & (local) McGuireWoods LLP (Dion Hayes, Douglas Foley, Sarah Boehm)

New Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Filing - Specialty Retail Shops Holding Corp. (Shopko)

Specialty Retail Shops Holding Corp. (Shopko)

January 16, 2019

Sun Capital Partners’-owned, Wisconsin-based, Specialty Retail Shops Holding Corp. (“Shopko”) filed for bankruptcy on January 16, 2019 in the District of Nebraska. Yes, the District of Nebraska. Practitioners in Delaware must really be smarting over that one. That said, this is not the first retail chapter 11 bankruptcy case shepherded by Kirkland & Ellis LLP in Nebraska (see, Gordman’s Stores circa 2017). K&E must love the native Kool-Aid. Others, however, aren’t such big fans: the company’s largest unsecured creditor, McKesson Corporation ($MCK), for instance. McKesson is a supplier of the company’s pharmacies and is a large player in the healthcare business, damn it; they spit on Kool-Aid; and they have already filed a motion seeking a change of venue to the Eastern District of Wisconsin. They claim that venue is manufactured here on the basis of an absentee subsidiary. How dare they? Nobody EVER venue shops. EVER!

Anyway, we’ve gotten ahead of our skis here…

The company operates approximately 367 stores (125 bigbox, 235 hometown, and 10 express stores) in 25 states throughout the United States; it employs…

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  • Jurisdiction: D. of Nebraska

  • Capital Structure: see report.    

  • Company Professionals:

    • Legal: Kirkland & Ellis LLP (James Sprayragen, Patrick Nash Jr., Jamie Netznik, Travis Bayer, Steven Serajeddini, Daniel Rudewicz) & (local) McGrath North Mullin & Kratz P.C. LLO (James Niemeier, Michael Eversden, Lauren Goodman)

    • Board of Directors: Russell Steinhorst (CEO), Casey Lanza, Donald Roach, Mohsin Meghji, Steve Winograd

    • Financial Advisor: Berkeley Research Group LLC

    • Investment Banker: Houlihan Lokey Capital Inc. (Stephen Spencer)

    • Liquidation Consultant: Gordon Brothers Retail Partners LLC

      • Legal: Riemer & Braunstein LLP (Steven Fox)

    • Real Estate Consultant: Hilco Real Estate LLC

    • Claims Agent: Prime Clerk LLC (*click on company name above for free docket access)

  • Special Committee of the Board of Directors

    • Legal: Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP

    • Financial Advisor: Ducera Partners LLC

  • Other Parties in Interest:

    • Wells Fargo Bank NA

      • Legal: Otterbourg PC (Chad Simon) & (local) Baird Holm LLP (Brandon Tomjack)

    • Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors (HanesBrands Inc., Readerlink Distribution Services LLC, Home Products International NA, McKesson Corp., Notations Inc., LCN SKO OMAHA (MULTI) LLC, Realty Income Corporation)

      • Legal: Pachulski Stang Ziehl & Jones LLP (Jeffrey Pomerantz, Bradford Sandler, Alan Kornfeld, Robert Feinstein) & (local) Goosmann Law Firm PLC (Joel Carney)

      • Financial Advisor: FTI Consulting Inc. (Conor Tully)

      • Expert Consultant: The Michel-Shaked Group (Israel Shaked)

Updated 3/9/19

💒New Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Filing - David's Bridal💒

David’s Bridal

November 19, 2018

We’ve previously written about PA-based David’s Bridal Inc. here and here and here: this bankruptcy has been a long time coming. But only recently has it come to light that there might be a consensual deal attached to any potential bankruptcy filing and, per the reports, that does appear to be the case. The company (and certain affiliates) filed for bankruptcy in the District of Delaware with a prepackaged plan of reorganization. If this flows through as planned (with a hoped for “Effective Date” of January 14), this will be a positive result that leaves trade vendors and employees paid in full and brides-to-be with their gowns without disruption. Thank G-d. In a day with rage all over the place, the last thing we need is more stress out there. And with 311 stores and 9,260 employees and given the general retail environment, consensual deals cannot be taken for granted.

While there is an underlying current of retail malaise here, this is primarily a balance sheet story. Why? Well…c’mon now…you know the answer: PRIVATE EQUITY!! In 2012, affiliates of Clayton, Dubilier & Rice, LLC (“CD&R”) purchased the company from another private equity firm, Leonard Green & Partners, L.P., which had previously purchased the company from Federated Department Stores Inc. Leonard Green 1. CD&R 0. Per the Company:

The Debtors’ current capital structure was put into place on or about October 11, 2012 as part of CD&R’s acquisition of David’s Bridal and certain of its affiliates. As of the Petition Date, the Company’s debt obligations include (i) approximately $25.7 million in drawn commitments under the Prepetition ABL Agreement; (ii) an estimated $481.2 million in outstanding principal obligations under the Prepetition Term Loan Agreement; and (iii) an estimated $270.0 million in outstanding principal obligations under the Unsecured Notes.

And here they are: in bankruptcy court due to too much debt and upcoming maturities. Bravo CD&R. The company also notes:

Despite the significant headwinds facing the brick-and-mortar retail industry, over the past several years, the Debtors have experienced steady financial performance and only modest loss of market share. The vast majority of David’s Bridal stores generate positive EBITDA, and the Debtors have historically generated stable operating cash flows. The most significant factor leading to the commencement of these chapter 11 cases is the amount of debt on the Debtors’ balance sheet, most of which will mature with the next 12 months.

David’s Bridal reported adjusted EBITDA of approximately $83.0 million for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2017 and of approximately $77.7 million for the first nine months of 2018. In fact, the vast majority of the stores in their fleet reportedly have profitable 4-wall EBITDA. So…uh…maybe we were…gulp…wrong…and maybe millennials actually do want wedding dresses…? 😳😳

Significantly, this IS a retail bankruptcy but this is NOT an “Amazon Effect” story. In fact, David’s Bridal MAKES money off of Amazon Inc. ($AMZN) and others, through an “affiliate relationship” pursuant to which David’s Bridal earns revenue by referring traffic to Amazon (and other sites like Men’s Wearhouse, Macy’s, Shutterfly, Marriott and Carnival).

The upshot of all of this is that the company claims it will dramatically cut the $777mm of funded debt. The company notes:

The restructuring contemplates a substantial deleveraging that will reduce the Debtors’ funded indebtedness from approximately $777 million to approximately $343 million (based upon currently anticipated borrowings on under an exit ABL facility at the Effective Date, which are subject to change).

Here’s how:

  • The prepetition ABL lenders will roll their prepetition facility into a $125mm ABL DIP credit facility;

  • The prepetition term lenders will provide a $60mm term loan DIP credit facility and swap their $481mm term loan for (i) the “vast majority” (75.5%) of the reorganized company’s common stock, (ii) a new “takeback” exit term loan of around $240-260mm and (iii) rights to participate in a $40-60mm priority exit term loan facility that takes out the DIP term loan and obtain (15%) additional stock;

  • The prepetition holders of unsecured notes will get the remaining (8.75%) common stock and warrants to capture potential upside; and

  • CD&R will get themselves a big-a$$ tax writeoff (if this hasn’t been written down already), presumably some angry limited partners, and some legal releases for playing ball in the consensual deal (including by waiving approximately $1mm of accrued management fees and expense reimbursements).

Now, we’re having a hard time figuring out how a $125mm exit ABL facility, $40-60mm in exit priority term loans, and $240-260mm in takeback paper equates to “$343 million” but, well, we guess lawyers draft these declarations, plans and disclosure statements and they ought to be given a reasonable mathematical margin of error. Plus, to be fair, they’re only talking about “funded” indebtedness and so the ABL likely won’t be tapped — as it wasn’t prepetition — to the full extent of availability. Still, they are understating the extent of the post-emergence balance sheet to some degree.

Finally, CD&R is a holder of unsecured notes. Which, per the third bulletpoint above, means that, despite effectively crushing this company with a burdensome amount of debt and driving this sucker into bankruptcy, they will continue to own a piece of the reorganized David’s Bridal going forward. Your wedding, powered by private equity.

As we say over and over again: G-d bankruptcy is beautiful.

  • Jurisdiction: D. of Delaware (Judge Silverstein)

  • Capital Structure: $125mm ABL ($25.7mm funded - Bank of America NA), $481mm TL (Bank of America NA), $270mm ‘20 7.75% senior unsecured notes (Wilmington Trust NA)

  • Company Professionals:

    • Legal: Debevoise & Plimpton LLP (M. Natasha Labovitz, Nick Kaluk III, Daniel Stroik, Craig Bruens) & (local) Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor LLP (Robert Brady, Edmon Morton, Jaime Luton Chapman, Tara Pakrouh)

    • Financial Advisor: AlixPartners LLP

    • Investment Banker: Evercore Group LLC (Stephen Goldstein)

      • Legal: DLA Piper LLP (Richard Chesley, Jamila Willis, Maris Kandestin)

    • Independent Auditors: KPMG LLP

    • Claims Agent: Donlin Recano & Company (*click on company name above for free docket access)

  • Other Parties in Interest:

    • Prepetition ABL & DIP ABL Agent: Bank of America NA

      • Legal: Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP (Julia Frost-Davies, Christopher Carter, Glenn Siegel) & (local) Richards Layton & Finger PA (Mark Collins, Brett Haywood)

    • DIP TL Agent: Cantor Fitzgerald Securities

    • Ad Hoc Term Lender Group (AlbaCore Capital LLP, Courage Credit Opportunities Onshore Fund III LP, Courage Credit Opportunities Fund IV LP, Eaton Vance Management, Deutsche Bank AG Cayman Islands Branch, HG Vora Special Opportunities Master Fund Ltd., Rimrock Capital Management LLC, Neuberger Berman Alternative Funds, Sound Point Capital Management, Whitebox Advisors LLC,

      • Legal: Jones Day (Scott Greenberg, Michael J. Cohen, Nicholas Morin) & (local) Pachulski Stang Ziehl & Jones LLP (Laura Davis Jones, Timothy Cairns, Joseph Mulvihill)

      • Financial Advisor: Greenhill & Co., Inc.

    • Crossover Lender: Oaktree Capital Management LP (within its Strategic Credit, High Yield and Loan Strategies)

      • Legal: Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison LLP (Alan Kornberg, John Weber) & (local) Cozen O’Connor PC

      • Financial Advisor: Moelis & Co.

    • Supporting Unsecured Noteholder: Solace Capital Partners LP

      • Legal: Fried Frank Harris Shriver & Jacobson LLP (Brad Scheler, Peter Siroka) & (local) Morris Nichols Arsht & Tunnell LLP (Derek Abbott)

      • Financial Advisor: FTI Consulting Inc.

    • Financial Sponsor & Supporting Unsecured Noteholder: Clayton Dubilier & Rice Fund VIII L.P.

    • Supporting Sponsor: Leonard Green & Partners L.P.

      • Legal: Cole Schotz P.C. (Norman Pernick, Kate Stickles)

New Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Filing - Advanced Sports Enterprises Inc.

Advanced Sports Enterprises Inc.

November 16, 2018

Another day, another retailer in bankruptcy court.

Advanced Sports Enterprises Inc. and several affiliated companies filed for bankruptcy on Friday in the District of North Carolina. The debtors are designers, manufacturers and wholesale sellers of bicycles and related equipment. The debtors utilize both online (www.performancebike.com) and brick-and-mortar channels (104 retail stores across 20 states) to sell their bikes.

The debtors blame their capital structure and the seasonal nature of their business for their fall into bankruptcy. Due to lack of liquidity, it sounds as if the debtors engaged in an operational restructuring that included stretching payables to suppliers and creditors. As you might imagine, once payments are delayed, suppliers and creditors get kind of pissed off and start imposing more aggressive payment terms. In other words, they’re not too keen on being creditors. When that happens, a company pushing the envelope is caught in a vicious cycle. Indeed, here, the debtors say that they are on pace to run out of money in January 2019.

So, the debtors intend to market their business to an array of potential purchasers: private equity funds, family offices, strategic parties, and liquidators. While that process plays out, they will close 40 stores. They seek approval of a $45mm DIP credit facility from their prepetition senior secured lender, Wells Fargo Bank NA, to fund the cases.

  • Jurisdiction: D. of North Carolina

  • Capital Structure: $37.9mm first lien credit facility (Wells Fargo NA). $7.375mm term loan (Advanced Holdings Co., Ltd.). Otherwise, see below.

  • Company Professionals:

    • Legal: Flaster/Greenberg P.C. (William Burnett, Richard Dressel, Harry Giacometti, Douglas Stanger, Damien Nicholas Tancredi) & (local) Northern Blue LLP (John Northen, Vicki Parrott, John Paul H. Cournoyer)

    • Financial Advisor: Clear Thinking Group LLC (Joseph Marchese)

    • Investment Banker: D.A. Davidson & Co. (Michael Smith)

    • Liquidator: Gordon Brothers Retail Partners LLC

    • Real Estate Consultant: A&G Realty Partners LLC

    • Claims Agent: KCC LLC (*click on company name above for free docket access)

  • Other Parties in Interest:

    • Senior Secured Lender: Wells Fargo Bank NA

      • Legal: Riemer & Braunstein LLP (Donald Rothman, Steven Fox) & (local) Williams Mullen (Holmes Harden)

    • Unsecured Creditors Committee: none appointed due to lack of creditors.

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Source: First Day Declaration.

Source: First Day Declaration.

New Chapter 11 Filing - Herb Philipson's Army and Navy Stores Inc.

Herb Philipson’s Army and Navy Stores Inc.

October 8, 2018

Herb Philipson’s Army and Navy Stores Inc., a New York-based outdoor apparel and sporting goods retailer since 1951, filed for bankruptcy in the Northern District of New York.

The company carries various brands like Carhartt, Columbia Sportswear, Levi, lee, Under Armour, Dickies, Timberland and The North Face in its stores (most of which are now the company’s largest unsecured creditors) and also serves as the exclusive retailer for the Utica Comets Hockey Team and the new Utica City Football Club. The company has 9 locations, none of which are in or on company-owned structures or real property. The company had revenues of $43.5mm and $39.8mm in 2016 and 2017, respectively. Through nine months of 2018, the company experienced a dramatic decline in business with revenues of just $15.6mm.

What caused such a stark decline in business? The company notes:

“The decline of the Debtor’s business is directly attributable to a confluence of operational and liquidity factors. Starting in 2015, the Company began to suffer from decreased sales — largely attributable to HP’s inventory mix failing to appeal to the tastes of the market and the rise of e-commerce, which allowed the Debtor’s customers to purchase from on-line retailers the same or similar good being offered by the Company.”

Moreover, the company lost access to its line of credit, necessitating sales of new inventory to finance operations and leaving the company unable to order fresh inventory in Q1 2018.

What followed is a textbook tale of a small brick-and-mortar business trying to make it in a world dominated by upstart DTC brands, Amazon, and bigbox retail. Renegotiations of leases. Headcount reductions. An intensified focus on inventory selection and management. A scramble for new credit which, here, new ownership was able to lock down.

Clearly, however, the terms of the new credit line were either too onerous or too unrealistic as, unfortunately for the company, the new credit facility merely helped expedite the company’s spiral into bankruptcy court. Indeed, roughly a month after entering into the new lending facility, the lender, Second Avenue Capital, notified the company that it was in default under the facility. The relief afforded the company by the cash infusion was, clearly, short-lived.

Consequently, the company filed for bankruptcy so that the “automatic stay” protections of the Bankruptcy Code (section 362) could be leveraged to prevent Second Avenue Capital from exercising its rights and remedies under the credit facility and provide the company with a “breathing spell” within which to attend to “properly restructure and reorganize its affairs and propose a chapter 11 plan that would provide…creditors with meaningful recoveries.”

October 12, 2018 Update:

As is often the case in bankruptcy, there are two sides to every story. In this case, the company’s secured lender, Second Avenue Capital, argues that the company “demonstrated a shocking inability to accurately project the operating performance of the business” leading to “material deviations” to the underwriting-dependent budget. Second Avenue argues, among other things, that (i) the debtor missed its own sales projections by 33.1%, (ii) comparable store sales are projected in the company’s latest budget to be negative 30% and 37% (vs. the underwritten projected positive 5% and 10%) for the months of November and December 2018; and (iii) the company has already missed its own inventory projection by approximately 17.9%. In other words, Second Avenue — while objecting to the company’s motion to use cash collateral — is asserting that they are undercollateralized and that the company is providing inadequate adequate protection.

Notably, Second Avenue doesn’t expressly say that the company was fraudulent in providing the budget upon which Second Avenue underwrote the loan; it does say, however, that “[a]s a consequence of the Debtor’s financial performance…and not any nefarious conduct by the Lender…the Debtor was in substantial and material default” under the credit agreement. Not exactly mincing words. Which only means one of three things: (1) the company was wildly inept in putting together its projections/budget; (2) the company was hopelessly optimistic and otherworldly unrealistic about its projections/budget; (3) the macro conditions for a small brick-and-mortar retailer in today’s day are coming at owners so fast and so furious that projections and budgets, more than usual, are anyone’s guess. We’ll leave it to a court to decide but it sure looks like there may be a contested fight here with the fate of the company in the balance.*

*The first day hearing was scheduled for October 15 but no orders have hit the docket.

  • Jurisdiction: N.D. of New York (Judge Davis)

  • Capital Structure: $2.05mm of secured debt (Second Avenue Capital), $1.5mm secured promissory notes

  • Company Professionals:

    • Legal: Griffin Hamersky LLP (Scott Griffin, Michael Hamersky, Sophia Hepheastou) & Cullen and Dykman LLP (Maureen Bass)

    • Financial Advisor & Investment Banker: Scouler Kirchhein LLC

    • Claims Agent: KCC (*click on company name above for free docket access)

  • Other Parties in Interest:

    • Senior Secured Lender: Second Avenue Capital LLC

      • Legal: Riemer & Braunstein LLP (Steven Fox)

🛌New Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Filing - Mattress Firm Inc.🛌

Mattress Firm Inc.

10/05/18

Recap: See our recap here.

  • Jurisdiction: D. of Delaware (Judge Sontchi)

  • Capital Structure: See below.

  • Company Professionals:

    • Legal: Sidley Austin LLP (Bojan Guzina, Michael Fishel, Gabriel MacConaill, Matthew Linder, Blair Warner) & (local) Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor LLP (Edmon Morton)

    • Financial Advisor: AlixPartners LLP

    • Investment Banker: Guggenheim Securities LLC (Durc Savini)

    • Liquidator: Gordon Brothers Group LLC

      • Legal: Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP (Steven Reisman, Cindi Giglio) & (local) Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr LLP (Mark Minuti, Lucian Murley)

    • Real Estate Advisors: A&G Realty Partners

    • Claims Agent: Epiq Corporate Restructuring LLC (*click on company name above for free docket access)

  • Other Parties in Interest:

    • Barclays Bank PLC

      • Legal: Paul Hastings LLP (Andrew Tenzer, Michael Comerford) & (local) Richards Layton & Finger PA (Mark Collins, Jason Madron)

    • Citizens Bank NA

      • Legal: Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP (Julia Frost-Davies, Marc Leduc, Laura McCarthy) & (local) Richards Layton & Finger PA (Mark Collins, Jason Madron)

    • Steinhoff International Holdings N.V

      • Legal: Linklaters LLP (Robert Trust, Christopher Hunker, Amy Edgy) & (local) Morris Nichols Arsht & Tunnell LLP (Derek Abbott, Andrew Remming, Joseph C. Barsalona II)

    • Exit term loan financing backstop group (the “Backstop Group”): Attestor Capital LLP, Baupost Group, Centerbridge Partners LP, DK Capital Management Partners, Farrallon Capital Management L.L.C., KKR & Co. Partners LLP, Monarch Alternative Capital LP, Och-Ziff Capital Management, Silverpoint Capital

      • Legal: Latham & Watkins LLP (Mitchell Seider, Adam Goldberg, Hugh Keenan Murtagh, Marc Zelina, Adam Kassner) & (local) Ashby & Geddes PA (William Bowden, Karen Skomorucha Owens, F. Troupe Mickler IV)

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New Chapter 11 Filing - Sarar USA Inc.

Sarar USA Inc. 

7/20/18

Sarar USA Inc., a New Jersey-based brick-and-mortar retailer of high-end men's apparel (read: custom-tailored suits) filed for bankruptcy. The company's products are manufactured by Sarar Turkey, a Turkey-based textile company that purportedly produces clothing for the likes of Hugo Boss and Ermenegildo Zegna. Sarar USA currently operates twelve locations; it, until recently, operated eighteen locations but recently closed six locations, including a store on Madison Avenue in New York City. The stores are "primarily in 'Class A' malls (prime locations)." 

The company filed for bankruptcy because "its retail sales have not been sufficient to cover its costs, which consist primarily of rent, labor and costs of products." And why is that? Well,

While the Debtor has created a unique high-end customer experience that is valued by its customers, unpredictable industry-wide market challenges in brick-and-mortar retail locations (notably, declining traffic in traditional shopping malls and the inability/lack of willingness by landlords to adjust rents to these operating realities) have led to extremely high operating costs and depressed profits in recent years.

At least they didn't note "the Amazon Effect." Whew. 

The company's equityholders were, for some time, propping the company up with liquidity infusions but apparently concluded that they were just flushing money down the toilet. Attempts to negotiate rent concessions from landlords proved futile. The company, therefore, is in Chapter 11 to review its store footprint, close underperforming stores under cover of the Bankruptcy Code, and take a second bite of its landlords to see if they'll be able to squeeze any postpetition rent forgiveness. If the company truly is in Class A malls, well...color us skeptical. 

The company, however, seems optimistic. It boasts: 

The Debtor’s products are priced from $50-$1,500, with an average retail price (after applicable discounts) of $320. Since its founding, the Debtor has been on a purposeful mission to create high-end tailored suits for the American and Canadian market. The Debtor’s suits are known throughout the world as one of the finest brands available to discriminating consumers. The Debtor offers suits that are both in-style and customer-fitted. Store locations are stocked with an average of 4,500 unique products, across a range of colors to fit any body type. The Debtor has become a leading fashion brand in the United States.

Which would explain why none of us here at PETITION have never heard of it. We've guessing nobody in the restructuring community has either, quite frankly. At least judging by the suits we've seen y'all rocking in court, anyway. 

The company also has an e-commerce platform that "currently accounts for approximately 2% of the Debtor's revenues." Expanding that platform is just one part of many in a robust strategic plan the company hopes to initiate in bankruptcy to be viable go-forward. Godspeed. 

  • Jurisdiction: D. of New Jersey (Judge Sherwood)
  • Capital Structure: No secured debt.      
  • Company Professionals:
    • Legal: Perkins Coie LLP (Schuyler Carroll, Jeffrey Vanacore)
    • Claims Agent: Prime Clerk LLC (*click on company name above for free docket access)

Updated 7/20/18, 6:44 pm CT

New Chapter 11 Filing - The Rockport Company LLC

The Rockport Company LLC

5/14/18

The Rockport Company LLC, a Massachusetts-based designer, distributor and retailer of comfort footwear has filed for bankruptcy — the latest in a string of footwear retailers that has found its way into chapter 11. Payless Shoesource, Sheikh Shoes, and Nine West Holdings are other recent filings. The current owners of the business — its prepetition lenders — purchased the business from Berkshire Partners LLC and New Balance Holding Inc. in 2017. 

The company operates in what it dubs a “highly competitive” business where “[a]t various times of the year, department store chains, specialty shops, and online retailers offer brand-name merchandise at substantial markdowns which further intensifies the competitive nature of the industry.” The company has (i) a robust wholesale business (57% of all its global sales), (ii) a direct retail business (eight (8) full-price and nineteen (19) outlet stores in the United States and fourteen (14) full-price and nineteen (19) outlet stores in Canada), (iii) e-commerce, and (iv) an international distribution segment. 

This business has suffered from (a) operational challenges (a costly and time consuming separation from the Adidas Networks, with which the company's operations were deeply integrated until late 2017), (b) other negative externalities (i.e., the closure of three supply factories, contract disputes with warehousemen, and (c) the burdens of its brick-and-mortar footprint. The company notes, "[o]ver the last several years the Debtors have faced a highly promotional and competitive retail environment, underscored by a shift in customer preference for online shopping." And it notes further, "[t]he unfavorable performance of the Acquired Stores in the current retail environment has made it difficult for the Debtors to maintain sufficient liquidity and to operate their business outside of Chapter 11."

In light of this, armed with a $20 million new-money DIP credit facility (exclusive of rollup amounts) extended by its prepetition ABL lenders, the company has filed for bankruptcy to consummate a stalking horse-backed asset purchase agreement with CB Marathon Opco, LLC an affiliate of Charlesbank Equity Fund IX, Limited Partnership for the sale of the company's assets - OTHER THAN its North American assets — for, among other things, $150 million in cash. The buyer has a 25-day option to continue considering whether to purchase the North American assets but the company does "not expect there to be any significant interest in the North American Retail Assets." Read: the stores. The company, therefore, also filed a "store closing motion" so that it can expeditiously move to shutter its brick-and-mortar footprint at the expiration of the option. Ah, retail. 

  • Jurisdiction: D. of Delaware 
  • Capital Structure: $57mm prepetition ABL Facility (Citizens Business Capital), $188.3 million '22 prepetition senior secured notes, $11mm prepetition subordinated notes.  
  • Company Professionals:
    • Legal: Richards Layton & Finger PA (Mark Collins, Michael J. Merchant, Amanda R. Steele, Brendan J. Schlauch, Megan E. Kenney)
    • Financial Advisor: Alvarez & Marsal Private Equity Services Operations Group, LLC (Paul Kosturos)
    • Investment Banker: Houlihan Lokey Inc.
    • Claims Agent: Prime Clerk LLC (*click on company name above for free docket access)
  • Other Parties in Interest:
    • Prepetition Noteholders and DIP Note Purchasers
      • Legal: Debevoise & Plimpton LLP (My Chi To, Daniel Stroik) & (local) Pachulski Stang Ziehl & Jones LLP (Bradford Sandler, James O'Neill)
    • Collateral Agent and DIP Note Agent
      • Legal: Holland & Knight LLP (Joshua Spencer) & (local) Pachulski Stang Ziehl & Jones LLP (Bradford Sandler, James O'Neill)
    • ABL Administrative Agent and ABL DIP Agent: Citizens Business Capital
      • Legal: Riemer Braunstein LLP (Donald Rothman, Lon Singer, Jaime Rachel Koff, Jeremy Levesque) & (local) Ashby & Geddes PA (Gregory Taylor)
    • Stalking Horse Bidder: CB Marathon Opco, LLC an affiliate of Charlesbank Equity Fund IX, Limited Partnership
      • Legal: Goodwin Proctor LLP (Jon Herzog, Joseph Bernardi Jr.) & (local) Pepper Hamilton LLP (David Fournier, Evelyn Meltzer)

Updated 5/14/18 at 10:14 am

New Chapter 11 Filing - Claire's Stores Inc.

Claire's Stores Inc. 

3/19/18

Claire’s® Stores Inc. is the latest in a string of specialty "treasure hunt"-styled retailers to find its way into bankruptcy court. In this case, the debtors, together with their 33 non-debtor affiliates, sell jewelry, accessories, and beauty products to young women/teen/tweens/kids; it has a presence in 45 nations spread throughout 7,500 company-owned stores, concession stands, and franchises. The company proudly states that "[a] Claire's store is located in approximately 99% of major shopping malls through the United States." Moreover, "[e]ach of the Debtors' store locations are leased, and are typically located in traditional shopping malls with, on average, 1,000 square foot of selling space." PETITION NOTE: this explains a lot. Hashtag, retail apocalypse.

First Day Declarations are interesting in that they are the first opportunity for a debtor-company to tell its story to the public, to parties in interest, and, significantly, to the bankruptcy judge. And this declaration is particularly interesting because, unlike many of its bankrupt specialty retail predecessors, Claire’s® makes a concerted effort to delineate why its physical presence is so critical. So what is that critical piece? Apparently, it is ear piercing. Yup, you read that right. Ok, well that and the "treasure hunt" shopping atmosphere which "simply cannot be replicated online." The company boasts about solid operating margins. and notes that, at the time of filing, it only intends to shed 95 leases. 

The company notes that it has established trust with parents and the number of pierced ears is indicative of that; it estimates that it has pierced over 100 million ears worldwide (since 1978) and 3.5 million in fiscal year 2017. While that is gimmicky and cute, the company doesn't not note how much of the reported $212 million of EBITDA (on $1.3 billion of revenue) is related to this phenomenon. Moreover, all of the trust in the world cannot overcome a capital structure with $1.9 billion of funded debt (ex-$245 million more at the non-debtor affiliate level) and $162 million in cash interest expense (see chart below) - especially when $1.4 billion of that funded debt matures in Q1 '19. And particularly when fewer and fewer people tend to frequent the malls that Claire’s® dominate. Notably, the company says ONLY the following about e-commerce: "Finally, the Claire's Group operates a digital sales platform through which new and existing customers can purchase products directly through the Claire’s® and Icing® websites and mobile application." So, as the malls go, Claire’s® goes. Notably, the company makes a point that it "is growing, not shrinking, its business. The Company expects its concessions business to grow by more than 4,000 stores in 2018." Landlords take note: the company highlights its CONCESSIONS BUSINESS, which is essentially a "mini-footpring" utilizing the store-within-a-store model. In other words, this growth won't help the landlords much. 

In addition to its debt, the company notes - as a primary cause for its bankruptcy filing - that the "Debtors operate in a highly competitive market." PETITION NOTE: No effing sh*t. Mall traffic has declined 8% year-over-year and the debtors - ear-piercing demand notwithstanding - aren't impervious to this. Accordingly, revenue is down $200mm since 2014. 

To counteract these trends, the company engaged in exchange transactions back in 2016 that had the effect of stripping out intellectual property collateral, swapping out debt, and deleveraging the company by $400 million. Clearly that was a band-aid rather than a solution. 

Now the company purports to have a restructuring support agreement with the Ad Hoc First Lien Group which, in addition to 72% of the first lien debt, holds 8% of the second lien notes and 83% of the unsecured notes. The members of the Ad Hoc Group of First Lien Creditors have agreed to provide the Company with approximately $575 million of new capital, including financing commitments for a new $75 million asset-based lending facility, a new $250 million first lien term loan, and $250 million as a preferred equity investment. In addition, the company has lined up a Citibank-provided DIP credit facility of $75 million ABL (supported, seemingly, by the consenting ad hoc first lien group) and a $60 million "last out" term loan. Consequently, Claire's expects to complete the chapter 11 process in September 2018, emerge with over $150 million of liquidity, and reduce its overall indebtedness by approximately $1.9 billion. We'll believe it when we see it. 

  • Jurisdiction: D. of Delaware (Judge Walrath)
  • Capital Structure: see below. 
  • Company Professionals:
    • Legal: Weil Gotshal & Manges LLP (Ray Schrock, Matthew Barr, Ryan Dahl) & (local) Richards Layton & Finger PA (Daniel DeFranceschi, Zachary Shapiro, Brendan Schlauch, Brett Haywood)
    • Financial Advisor: FTI Consulting Inc.
    • Investment Banker: Lazard Freres & Co. LLC 
    • Real Estate Advisor: Hilco Real Estate LLC 
    • Independent Director: Michael D'Appolonia 
    • Claims Agent: Prime Clerk LLC (*click on company name above for free docket access)
  • Other Parties in Interest:
    • PE Sponsor: Apollo Investment Fund VI, L.P. (owns 97.7% of Claire's Inc, the parent)
      • Legal: Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison LLP (Jeffrey Saferstein)
    • DIP Agent: Citibank
      • Legal: Latham & Watkins LLP
    • Prepetition ABL Facility & Revolving Credit Facility Agent: Credit Suisse AG, Cayman Islands Branch
    • Ad Hoc First Lien Group (Initial Consenting Creditors: Diameter Capital Partners LP, Elliott Management Corporation, Monarch Alternative Capital LP, The Cincinnati High Yield Desk of J.P. Morgan Investment Management Inc., The Indianapolis High Yield Desk of J.P. Morgan Investment Management Inc., and Venor Capital Management LP.)
      • Legal: Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP (Matthew Feldman, Brian Lennon, Daniel Forman) & (local) Morris Nichols Arsht & Tunnell LLP
      • Financial Advisor: Millstein & Co. 
    • First Lien Note Agent: The Bank of New York Mellon Trust Company N.A.
    • First Lien Term Loan Agent: Wilmington Trust NA
      • Legal: Pryor Cashman LLP (Seth Lieberman, Patrick Sibley, Matthew Silverman)
    • Second Lien Note Agent: Bank of New York 
    • Unsecured Note Indenture Trustee: Bank of New York 
    • Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors
      • Legal: Cooley LLP (Cathy Hershcopf, Seth Van Aalten, Summer McKee) & (local) Bayard PA (Justin Alberto, Erin Fay, Gregory Flasser)
      • Financial Advisor: Province Inc. 
Source: First Day Declaration

Source: First Day Declaration

Updated 3/30/18

New Chapter 11 Bankruptcy - The Walking Company Holdings Inc.

The Walking Company Holdings Inc.

3/8/18 Recap: Another retailer - this time a repeat offender - will be walking into bankruptcy court (see what we did there?). Here, the California-based once-publicly-traded ($WALK) manufacturer of footwear like Birkenstock and ASICS has filed for bankruptcy with a plan on file and an equity sponsor in tow to the tune of $10mm. 

This is a story of staggered disruption. In the first instance, the company expanded via acquisition and grew from 2005-2008 to over 200 stores. To fund the expansion, the company issued $18.5mm of convertible notes and transferred the proceeds of the liquidation of its Big Dog entity to The Walking Company, the use of proceeds including the buildout of omni-channel distribution and vertical integration. But,

As a result of many factors including- among them, challenging negotiations with landlords which did not provide the Debtors with the rent relief they believe they needed, and the state of the national economy, by late 2008 TWC found that nearly 100 of the newer stores it opened during this expansion period were not generating the sales and profits expected.

Moreover, 

...by 2008, Big Dogs' business had collapsed more rapidly than the Debtors had anticipated. Big Dogs was in the business of selling moderately priced, casual apparel through a chain of specialty retail stores (Big Dogs stores) located around the country. The rapid growth of big-box, mass-market retailers during this period put great pricing pressure on retailers of moderately priced, casual apparel, putting many of them out of business.

Walmart ($WMT). Target ($TGT). Just say it broheims. Never understand the reluctance in these filings. Anyway, the upshot of all of this? Once the Great Recession hit, mall traffic fell off a cliff, revenue declines accelerated, landlords proved obstinate, and the company filed for bankruptcy in December 2009. 

In bankruptcy, the company reached accommodations with certain landlords and received a $10mm capital infusion from Kayne Anderson Capital Advisors LP. 

Subsequent to the bankruptcy, the company apparently thrived from 2013 through 2017. It had a better rent structure, it ceased expansion, and it focused on successful brands (e.g., ABEO) and the wholesaling and international licensing thereof. But then the realities of e-commerce struck. Per the company,

During this period, however, the increasing power of Internet retailers made traditional business of retail stores selling products manufactured by others increasingly difficult, and it also had an increasingly negative impact on customer traffic in shopping malls. 

Indeed, Deckers Outdoor Corporation ($DECK)(the manufacturer of UGG footwear) terminated its relationship with the company. The company couldn't replace those lost sales fast enough - through third party or private label sales - and the dominos started to fall. The company sought rent concessions and landlords, for the most part, told it to pound sand. Holiday sales declined. Appraisers reduced the valuation of inventory and, in turn, the company had diminished access to its bank credit line. Cue the Scarlet 22.

The company intends to use the bankruptcy to obtain "substantial rent relief by conforming their lease portfolio to market rents." Notably, two of the initial 5 leases that the company seeks to reject in the first instance are Simon Property Group locations in Dallas and Oklahoma City and one Taubman location. Other creditors appear to be your standard retail slate: Chinese manufacturers, trade vendors (ECCO, Rockport) and other landlords (General Growth Properties is a prominent one with locations listed as 9 of the top 30 creditors). 

The company otherwise has agreement with its large shareholders (including another $10mm equity infusion) and Wells Fargo to provide DIP and exit credit. 

  • Jurisdiction: D. of Delaware 
  • Capital Structure: $40.3mm RCF & $7.25mm TL (Wells Fargo Bank NA), $11.74mm 8.375% '19 convertible notes    
  • Company Professionals:
    • Legal: Pachulski Stang Ziehl & Jones LLP (Jeffrey N Pomerantz, Jeffrey W Dulberg, Victoria A Newmark, James E ONeill) 
    • Financial Advisor: Consensus Advisors LLC
    • Claims Agent: KCC (*click on company name above for free docket access)
  • Other Parties in Interest:
    • DIP Agent, DIP Term Agent, Prepetition Senior Agent: Wells Fargo Bank NA
      • Legal: Choate Hall & Stewart LLP (Kevin Simard) & (local) Womble Bond Dickinston (Matthew Ward)
    • Prepetition Subordinated Noteholders (Simon Property Group, Galleria Mall Investors LP)
      • Legal: Irell & Manella LLP (Jeffrey Reisner)

New Chapter 11 Filing - Tops Holding II Corporation

Tops Holding II Corporation

  • 2/21/18 Recap: When a company's "Overview" in its First Day Declaration basically leads with union metrics (12,300 unionized employees of 14,000 total employees) and collective bargaining agreement numbers (12 of them), you know there's gonna be a war with employees. The fact that the footprint is 169 stores-wide in three states almost seems like a footnote. As does the fact that the business started in the 1920s and seemingly thrived through 2007 when, naturally, private equity got involved and went on a debt-ridden acquisition spree. But hang on: we're getting ahead of our skis here. So, what happened here? Well, clearly, the company has to negotiate with its unions; it also seeks to deleverage its ballooning balance sheet and take care of some leases and supply agreements. The company has secured $265mm in DIP financing to fund the cases; it says that it "intend[s] to remain in chapter 11 for approximately six (6) months." We'll believe it when we see it. Anyway, WHY does it need to take all of these steps? Well, as we stated before: private equity, of course. "Despite the significant headwinds facing the grocery industry, over the past five years, the Company has experienced solid financial performance and has sustained stable market share. The vast majority of the Company’s supermarkets generate positive EBITDA and the Company generates strong operating cash flows. Transactions undertaken by previous private equity ownership, however, saddled the Company with an unsustainable amount of debt on its balance sheet. Specifically, the Company currently has approximately $715 million of prepetition funded indebtedness...." Ah, private equity = a better villain than even Amazon (though Amazon gets saddled with blame here too, for the record). But wait: don't forget about the pensions! "[T]he Company has been embroiled in a protracted and costly arbitration with the Teamsters Pension Fund concerning a withdrawal liability of in excess of $180 million allegedly arising from the Company’s acquisition of Debtor Erie Logistics LLC" from its biggest food supplier, C&S Wholesale Grocers Inc., the 10th largest private company in the US. Moreover, the company has been making monthly pension payments; nevertheless, the pension is underfunded by approximately $393mm. The company continues, "Utilizing the tools available to it under the Bankruptcy Code, the Company will endeavor to resolve all issues relating to the Teamsters Arbitration and address its pension obligations, and the Company will take reasonable steps to do so on a consensual basis." Oy. What a hot mess. We can't even read that without ominous music seemingly popping up out of nowhere. More to come.

  • Jurisdiction: S.D. of New York

  • Capital Structure: $112mm RCF (inclusive of a $10mm FILO and $34mm LCs, Bank of America NA), $560mm 8% '22 senior secured notes, $67.5mm 9% '21 opco unsecured notes, $8.6mm 8.75%/9.5% '18 holdco unsecured notes

  • Company Professionals:

    • Legal: Weil Gotshal & Manges LLP (Ray Schrock, Stephen Karotkin, Sunny Singh)

    • Financial Advisor/CRO: FTI Consulting Inc. (Michael Buenzow, Armen Emrikian, Paul Griffith, Ronnie Bedway, Andy Kopfensteiner)

    • Investment Banker: Evercore (David Ying, Stephen Goldstein, Jeremy Matican, Elliot Ross, Jonathan Kartus, Andrew Kilbourne)

    • Real Estate Advisor: Hilco Real Estate LLC

    • Claims Agent: Epiq Bankruptcy Solutions LLC (*click on company name above for free docket access)

  • Other Parties in Interest:

    • Prepetition ABL Agent & DIP ABL Agent: Bank of America NA

      • Legal Counsel: Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP (Julia Frost-Davies, Amelia Joiner, Matthew Ziegler)

    • Indenture Trustee for Senior Notes due 2018, notes due 2021 and Senior Secured Notes: U.S. Bank NA

      • Legal: Thompson Hine LLP (Irving Apar, Elizabeth Frayer, Derek Wright)

    • Ad Hoc Noteholder Group & DIP TL Lenders (Column Park Asset Management LP, Fidelity Management & Research Company, HG Vora Capital Management LLC, Signature Global Asset Management, Silver Point Capital LP)

      • Legal: Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison LLP (Alan Kornberg, Diane Meyers, Lauren Shumejda)

      • Financial Advisor: Lazard Freres & Co. LLC

    • DIP TL Agent: Cortland Capital Markets Services LLC

      • Legal: Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP (Tyler Nurnberg, Alan Glantz)

    • Southpaw Asset Management LP

      • Legal: Cooley LLP (Jeffrey Cohen, Steven Siesser, Sheila Sadighi, Andrew Behlmann)

    • Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors (PepsiCo, Inc., Valassis Direct Mail, Inc., Osterweis Strategic Income Fund, U.S. Bank N.A., the UFCW Local One Pension Fund, the Teamsters Local 264, and Benderson Development Company, LLC)

      • Legal: Morrison & Foerster LLP (Brett Miller, Dennis Jenkins, Jonathan Levine, Erica Richards)

      • Financial Advisor: Zolfo Cooper LLC

New Chapter 11 Filing - The Bon-Ton Stores Inc.

The Bon-Ton Stores Inc.

  • 2/4/18 Recap: See here
  • Jurisdiction: D. of Delaware (Judge Walrath)
    • Capital Structure: $339mm Tranche A RCF (Bank of America), $150 Tranche A-1 Term Loan, $350mm second lien notes (Wells Fargo Bank NA)     
  • Company Professionals:
    • Legal: Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison LLP (Kelley Cornish, Elizabeth McColm, Claudia Tobler, Alexander Woolverton, Michael Colarossi, Diane Meyers, Moses Silverman) & Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor LLP (Pauline Morgan, Sean Greecher, Andrew Magaziner, Elizabeth Justison)
    • Financial Advisor: AlixPartners LLC (Holly Etlin, Carrianne Basler, Jim Guglielmo, John Creighton, Ben Chesters, Jamie Strohl, Mitch Chubinsky, Thomas Cole, Daniel Law) 
    • Investment Banker: PJT Partners LP (Steven Zelin, James Baird, Jon Walter, Vinit Kothary, Sartag Aujla)
    • Real Estate Advisor: A&G Realty Partners LLC
    • Intellectual Property Disposition Consultant: Hilco IP Services (David Peress)
    • Claims Agent: Prime Clerk LLC (*click on company name above for free docket access)
  • Other Parties in Interest:
    • Bank of America NA
      • Legal: Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP (Julia Frost-Davies, Robert A.J. Barry, Amelia Joiner) & Richards Layton & Finger PA (Mark Collins, Joseph Barsalona)
    • Second Lien Noteholders: Alden Global, LLC; B. Riley FBR, Inc.; Bennett Management Corporation; Brigade Capital Management, LP; Riva Ridge Master Fund, Ltd.; Cetus Capital LLC; Contrarian Capital Management LLC; and Wolverine Asset Management, LLC
      • Legal: Jones Day (Bruce Bennett, Joshua Mester, Sidney Levinson, Genna Ghaul, Charles Whittman-Todd) & (local) Cole Schotz PC (Norman Pernick, J. Kate Stickles)
    • Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors
      • Legal: Pachulski Stang Ziehl & Jones LLP (Jeffrey Pomerantz, Robert Feinstein, Bradford Sandler)
      • Financial Advisor: Zolfo Cooper LLC (David MacGreevey)
    • Prospective Buyer: DW Partners LP
      • Legal: DLA Piper LLP (Stuart Brown, R. Craig Martin, Jason Angelo, Richard Chesley, John Lyons, Oksana Rosaluk)

Updated 4/10/18