(Bloomberg)—RTW Retailwinds Inc., the parent of New York & Co., filed for bankruptcy, and the century-old women’s apparel chain may close all of its stores.
RTW “expects to close a significant portion, if not all, of its brick-and-mortar stores” and has begun the process of shutting and liquidating some locations, the company said in a statement Monday. It’s also considering a sale of its ecommerce business and intellectual property.
RTW, which also owns Fashion To Figure and Happy x Nature, warned last month that a bankruptcy filing was probable. The Chapter 11 filing allows the company to keep operating while it works out a plan to repay creditors.
Founded more than a century ago as Lerner Shops, the company changed its name to New York & Co. in the late 1990s and became a mall mainstay, teaming up with celebrities like Eva Mendes and Kate Hudson.
It’s the latest retailer felled by the coronavirus outbreak, which has forced store closures nationwide and prompted sharp declines in spending on discretionary goods. J.C. Penney Co., Neiman Marcus Group Inc. and J. Crew Group Inc. each filed for bankruptcy in May.
The New York-based chain has struggled in recent years with falling foot traffic at shopping centers and changing consumer tastes. Last year, management made it a priority to seek out new customers, but demand was disappointing at its mall stores and even worse at outlet shops.
In December, executives said they would close up to 30 stores as they reevaluated leases across the network of about 400 stores. They also began looking into subleasing office space at the company’s four-story headquarters in Manhattan. Incoming Chief Executive Officer Traci Inglis said in March that it was time to transition to a “digitally-dominant” brand.
RTW shifted to survival mode when the pandemic lockdown began. It closed stores in March and took steps to preserve liquidity by furloughing all store employees and some corporate workers, cutting the company’s payroll by 80%. It stopped making some vendor payments and didn’t pay rent in April or May.
The case is RTW Retailwinds Inc., 20-18445, U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of New Jersey.
New York & Co. is No. 184 in the 2020 Digital Commerce 360 Top 500.Favorite