Chapter 11 Watch: Aéropostale Gets New Life (Maybe); Sports Authority Execs Get Bonuses

Failing Retail Wheel And Deal
The latest in Chapter 11 filings.

Aéropostale might want to borrow a phrase made famous by Arnold Schwarzenegger in the Terminator series of movies — because the bankrupt teen retailer just keeps coming back.

After a deal last week with Versa Capital Management to buy 500 of the embattled retailers’ stores in an effort to keep the brand afloat fell through, Aéropostale might get yet another chance to stay alive as a consortium of bidders, including the two largest U.S. mall owners (Simon Property Group and General Growth Properties), have put in a “going concern” bid that would keep 229 of the stores open.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the bid was for $243.3 million. Even if Aéropostale does survive its bankruptcy filing, it would be in a significantly reduced state, as the once-popular teen apparel retailer operated about 800 stores in its heyday. However, it might ultimately make sense for the company to get leaner and keep only its most profitable stores in desirable locations going.

In recent years, Aéropostale has fallen victim to dwindling sales and a perception among younger shoppers (its core customers) that the brand is no longer as hip or cool as fast-fashion competitors, like Forever 21, Uniqlo or H&M.


A major bomb in the retail bankruptcy game could have dropped this week with very few people even taking notice.

South Korea’s Hanjin Shipping, the world’s seventh-largest shipping company in terms of shipping capacity, filed for bankruptcy protection on Wednesday (Aug. 31), according to numerous news reports.

Economists now fear that Hanjin Shipping’s filing could disrupt the global shipping supply chain and send shipping costs soaring as the holiday shopping season looms.

About 25,000 containers are shipped across the Pacific each day on Hanjin ships, which include clothing, toys, electronics, furniture and other items meant for delivery to U.S. retailers. But U.S. and Chinese ports have already started turning away the company’s ships, according to a report from WSJ, despite the South Korean government’s pledge that it would help “prop up” the company.

“There’s going to be exorbitant costs,” Peter Schneider, vice president of California-based TGS Transportation, told WSJ. “Everything is unraveling.”

Hanjin’s fate will be an interesting situation to watch play out over the coming months, particularly if global shipping costs do begin to skyrocket, which could put a damper on holiday sales and thus impact even more retailers who count on the holiday shopping season.


Even though Sports Authority, one of the nation’s largest and most recognizable sporting apparel retailers, is in the midst of a bankruptcy liquidation that will see the company close all its stores and leave about 14,000 employees out of a job, a bankruptcy judge ruled this week that three remaining executives at the company can still collect $1.5 million in bonuses.

While some argue that the bonus payouts are unfair in the wake of the company’s bankruptcy and that these unnamed executives are essentially being paid extra to do the jobs they were hired to do as the company goes out of business, Sports Authority argued that the executives’ rolls will be vital to the company over the next several months as it seeks to liquidate about $400 million worth of remaining merchandise and close hundreds of stores that still remain open.

WSJ reported that a fourth Sports Authority executive has since left the company after an earlier proposal to pay four top executives $2.85 million was not approved by the court.


And Wednesday also brought news of better-than-expected private sector jobs hiring for both August and July, according to information released by ADP.

ADP said that employers added 177,000 new jobs in August, up from an estimate of 175,000 jobs. The human resources software company also revised its July figures to 194,000 new jobs added, up from 179,000.