It is official: in light of increasingly intense speculation, Barneys New York filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York on August 6, its second bankruptcy filing in just over two decades. The upscale department store chain “put itself up for sale [on Tuesday] after facing soaring rents and failing in its earlier attempts to find a buyer for the cash-strapped retailer,” according to Reuters, stating that it will shutter 15 of its current locations, including those in Chicago, Las Vegas and Seattle, while keeping its Madison Avenue outpost and four others open.
The New York-headquartered fashion haven “secured $75 million in new financing from [B. Riley and Brigade] to help it keep operating as it navigates the bankruptcy court,” per Reuters, in connection with its listed assets and liabilities, which both fall within the range of $100 million to $500 million.
As for what companies Barneys owes the most to, the top 30 are listed in the chain’s bankruptcy filing, with the number one spot being held by Jenel Management, the private real estate investment and management organization that owns the real estate of Barneys’ flagship building on New York’s Madison Avenue. Barneys is on the hook for nearly $6 million in connection with its lease. Thor Equities, which holds title to the building that houses Barneys’ Chicago store, is situated as the fourth most heavily-owned creditor with an outstanding bill of more than $2.2 million.
Next up: The Row. The luxury fashion label owned by Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen is owed $3.7 million by Barneys in “Trade Payable,” i.e., payment for goods delivered, and LVMH-owned fashion brand Celine is owed $2.7 million.
Other fashion brands that are named in Barneys’ top 30 creditors include Saint Laurent (which is owed $2.2 million), Balenciaga ($2.1 million), Givenchy ($1.9 million), Gucci ($1.8 million), Prada ($1.6 million), Alaia ($1.4 million), Margiela ($1.4 million), Moncler ($1.2 million), Chloe ($995,965), Chanel ($877,516), and Loewe ($877,323), among more than 5,000 others.
As CNBC reported on Tuesday, “The filing makes the luxury department store the latest victim of the retail upheaval, as shoppers buy online and from brands directly.” The retailer, which was founded by the late Barney Pressman in 1923, has not only suffered from the large-scale consumer switch to digital and the entrance of digitally-native market participants, such as Net-A-Porter and Moda Operandi, its financial woes have been “exacerbated by sky-high rent even as its sales have fallen. As cash to pay its vendors has dwindled, it’s been left with out-of-season products, or in some cases, no product at all.”
But beyond the cost of maintaining its retail over-expansion, “One of the main challenges for Barneys, and stores everywhere, is that many customers today know what they want. Well, not really, but the taste-making has largely shifted from the stores to celebrities,” StyleZeitgeist’s Eugene Rabkin wrote last month. Today, he notes, “It’s A$AP Rocky and Billie Eilish who dictate purchasing decisions, not Barneys.”
“Customers now go to a shop not to browse but to buy a specific thing they saw someone else wear on Instagram,” per Rabkin. “And they can buy it from many places online.” In other words, they don’t need Barneys.
Correction: B. Riley and Brigade provided financing to Barney, not “affiliates of Hilco Global and the Gordon Brothers Group,” as previously reported by Reuters.
*The case is In Re: Barneys, Inc., No. 19-36299 (SDNY).