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J. Crew Preparing To File For Bankruptcy As Soon As This Weekend

Courtesy of ZeroHedge View original post here.

Apparel company J. Crew may file for bankruptcy as soon as this weekend, according to CNBC, which notes that the privately held company is scrambling to secure $400 million in financing to fund operations after filing.

CNBC's sources, which spoke on condition of anonymity due to the disclosure of confidential information, say the plans are not yet finalized, and that the timing of the filing could change.

The New York-based retailer had already been struggling under a heavy debt load and sales challenges, as it suffered criticism that it fell out of touch with its once-loyal customers. In the past few years, the brand lost both its longtime design chief, Jenna Lyons, and famed retail executive Mickey Drexler.

Those challenges have been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic that has forced stores to shutter, throwing the retail industry into a state of disarray. -CNBC

The company currently operates 182 J. Crew retail stores and 140 Madewell stores aimed at a younger demographic, which was launched four years ago in the hopes of spinning it off in an IPO which could have helped surmount its crippling debt. The company faced pushback from creditors.

J Crew stunned Wall Street when it swung to a profit of $1.5 million for the fiscal year ended Feb. 1, compared with a $74.4 million loss a year earlier. Total revenues increased 2% to $2.54 billion, though gains were largely driven by the company's Madewell denim-focused brand, while sales at J Crew have mostly languished.

According to Moody's, J. Crew had roughly $2.5 billion in sales for its year ending Feb. 1, and an estimated $93 million in total liquidity as 2021 debt maturities approach. In 2011, the company was acquired by TPG Capital and Leonard Green & Partners for $3 billion.

The preppy retailers now-former CEO and longtime creative engine Mickey Drexler stepped aside in 2017 follow a debt swap that staved off a bankruptcy filing, and although his successors have at least managed to wring more growth out of Madewell, the leverage buyout that took the company private more than ten years ago left it with more debt than it can reasonably manage: A nearly $1.7 billion albatross.

Like every other US retailer, J Crew shut its stores in March along with most of its competitors. Sales have plunged, though some see green shoots in some preliminary foot-traffic data.

The company has laid off tens of thousands of workers, and it's unclear how many of its stores will be operational when all of this is over.

When it became clear in March that the Madewell IPO wasn't going to happen, J Crew started negotiating with a group of lenders as it scrambled to find capital to pay off a loan maturing later in 2020.

The company, which has been working with advisers from investment bank Lazard and law firm Weil Gotshal & Manges, has a $4 million payment due at the end of April which it says it cannot make.

The company restructured its debt outside of bankruptcy in 2017 in a controversial deal that swapped $500 million of bonds due in 2019 for new securities backed by the intellectual property behind the J.Crew brand. Its lenders include Anchorage Capital Group LLC and Blackstone Group Inc.’s GSO Capital Partners LP.

The company, which was founded in the early 1980s as a catalogue retailer, has long been synonymous with the preppy look in the US.

Of course, this is just the latest bad news for the commercial real estate market and, by extension, the CMBX market which has already been battered by the crisis, making one newly minted Florida billionaire even richer.

While J Crew is more of a specialized retailer, mall anchor tenants – Neiman Marcus, JC Penny -  have been hit especially hard by the outbreak, as malls are transformed into ghost towns as whether or not they can reopen after the crisis will depend entirely on the government. Neiman Marcus is reportedly also in the process of finalizing talks with lenders to allow its stores to continue operating as it prepares a bankruptcy filing. And JC Penney, which is also reportedly preparing to file, is in talks for $1 billion in bankruptcy financing.

But as one twitter wit joked, the company might want to consider updating its website.


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