Nine West Seeks Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Protection
Nine West Holdings, owned by private-equity firm Sycamore Capital, is the latest retailer to file for bankruptcy. The company currently has more than $1 billion in debt owed to as many as 50,000 creditors, according to court documents filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York. Nine West Holdings CEO Ralph Schipani called the bankruptcy filing the “right step to address our two divergent business profiles.”
Nine West said it would sell its struggling shoe business, focusing instead on its jewelry and clothing lines. The company is reportedly in talks to sell its Nine West and Bandolino shoe and handbag businesses to Authentic Brands Group. Authentic Brands oversees a range of brands including Aeropostale, Frye, Neil Lane, and Juicy Couture.
Nine West plans to retain its profitable businesses, which include One Jeanswear Group, The Jewelry Group, the Kasper Group and Anne Klein. Schipani said in the statement, “We will retain our strong, profitable and growing apparel, jewelry, and jeanswear businesses and continue to operate them under a new capital structure so that we can leverage their existing strengths to drive even greater growth”
The retailer has faced several challenges in recent years, including having missed out on the athletic shoe trend. The decline of shopping malls and department stores, many of which sell Nine West products, hastened the company’s demise. Moody’s Investors Service put Nine West on a watch list of distressed retailers earlier this year.
Nine West has secured $300 million in financing to maintain its operations during its Chapter 11 process. The company says that most creditors of its creditors have already agreed to support a reorganization. It has been negotiating with its creditors at least since last year.
Schipani said in a statement, “Once we complete the reorganization process, our company will have meaningfully reduced debt and interest costs and be well-positioned for the future.” Kirkland & Ellis LLP is Nine West’s bankruptcy counsel, according to the filing.
Heavy debt loads and changing consumer preferences have taken their toll on the retail industry. Many retailers have sought bankruptcy protection, closed stores or plan to go out of business entirely. Claire’s, Bon-Ton and the Walking Company are among the high-profile retailers to file for bankruptcy in the past year. Analysts say more are likely to follow.