US retailer Bed Bath & Beyond files for bankruptcy

Bed Bath & Beyond filed for bankruptcy Sunday, cementing a years-long decline that saw losses surpass a billion dollars annually as the US retailer struggled to adapt to an uncertain economy and the dominance of online shopping.

The home goods chain filed voluntary petitions for relief under Chapter 11 at the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of New Jersey, a court filing showed.

The New Jersey-based retailer, seller of everything from shower curtains and soaps to vacuum cleaners and duvet covers, for years was a fixture on the Fortune 500 list of biggest American companies.

It said in a statement it had sought bankruptcy protection “to implement an orderly wind down of its businesses while conducting a limited marketing process to solicit interest in one or more sales of some or all of its assets.”

Bed Bath & Beyond shares dove in January as it warned of “substantial doubt about the Company’s ability to continue as a going concern,” a sign that was widely interpreted to mean it could file for bankruptcy.

The company said at the time that it expected a loss of $386 million in the just-finished quarter.

Despite several efforts to restructure — including the closure in 2022 of 150 of its underperforming stores — Bed Bath & Beyond was unable to turn its slumping finances around.

It says it has secured a commitment of $240 million in debtor-in-possession financing from a lender to support its operations during bankruptcy.

The company has listed both its estimated assets and estimated liabilities at between $1 billion and $10 billion, according to a court filing.

Closing sales at the stores will start on Wednesday.

“Thank you to all of our loyal customers,” a banner on the company’s website read Sunday.

“We have made the difficult decision to begin winding down our operations.”

Chief Executive Officer Sue Gove said the company “will continue working diligently to maximize value for the benefit of all stakeholders.”

“Millions of customers have trusted us through the most important milestones in their lives — from going to college to getting married, settling into a new home to having a baby,” she said in the company statement.

“We deeply appreciate our associates, customers, partners and the communities we serve, and we remain steadfastly determined to serve them throughout this process.”

The company said its “360 Bed Bath & Beyond and 120 buybuy BABY stores and websites will remain open and continue serving customers as the Company begins its efforts to effectuate the closure of its retail locations.”

Last September, its chief financial officer Gustavo Arnal fell to his death from a New York skyscraper in what was ruled a suicide.

No date has been set for the company’s first debtors’ hearing, it said.

Bed Bath & Beyond, founded in 1971, grew to operate stores in all 50 US states plus Puerto Rico, Canada and Mexico.

As sales plummeted last year, the company struggled to maintain supply in its stores, and share prices tumbled.

While competitors like Amazon and Target invested heavily in improving the online shopping experience in recent years, Bed Bath & Beyond labored at “evolving” its business and adapting, Richard McMahon, a former executive at the company who departed in 2015, told the New York Times.

“The internet started to become real and consumer behavior was changing through that process,” he added. (AFP)

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