Retail

Sur La Table Files For Bankruptcy And May Sell

Sur La Table

Seattle-based high-end kitchen retailer Sur La Table has filed for bankruptcy in a plan that may lead to its sale to affiliates of Fortress Investment Group, Bloomberg reported.

According to a statement Wednesday (July 8), the Chapter 11 filing for Sur La Table includes provisions to help keep it in business and financing support from existing lenders.

Sur La Table reported assets and liabilities totaling $500 million each in its bankruptcy petition. The plan calls for Fortress to be a stalking horse bidder, meaning that a minimum price will be set for a prospective auction, according to a Bloomberg report.

Fortress will be working with STORY3 Capital Partners.

Sur La Table was established in 1972 from another form as Seattle's Pike Place Market. Investcorp bought the company in 2011 for $146 million, the news outlet noted.

In March, as the coronavirus pandemic rapidly spread in the U.S., Sur La Table followed the path of many of its contemporaries and began to close stores and cancel its cooking classes across the country. The company's stores began to reopen by July, but the company filed for bankruptcy, saying some of its locations would have to be closed permanently.

The number of U.S. retailers filing for bankruptcy just keeps growing. The list includes former heavyweights like J.Crew, JCPenney and Neiman Marcus.

Forbes said the number of retail bankruptcies resulting from the pandemic is likely to be the "largest wave in history," and the Financial Times noted the pandemic was just the latest in a long series of problems facing traditional retailers. Retailers had already been fighting a market heavily skewing toward eCommerce in recent years, as well as young people leaving the suburbs over the past decade in favor of cities.

NPD Retail Group's Marshal Cohen said in a recent report that the old model of department stores, where people would shop and then "get lost on purpose" with entertainment like dining, had been lost in a sea of homogeneous sameness that had robbed them of that quality.

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