Gymboree closing all of its stores as retailer declares bankruptcy

By Kate Gibson

/ MoneyWatch

How brick-and-mortar retailers are competing

Add Gymboree to the growing list of retailers that have gone bust in recent years. For a second time in as many years, the children's clothing retailer late Wednesday filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

The company will start shutting its more than 700 Gymboree stores, other than its high-end kids apparel chain, Janie and Jack, which has 139 stores. An affiliate of Goldman Sachs has agreed to buy the business, setting the floor for an auction to draw the best offer or highest bidder for the business.

"We are saddened and highly disappointed that we must move ahead with a wind-down of the Gymboree and Crazy 8 businesses. At the same time, we are focused on using this process to preserve the Janie and Jack business – a strong brand that is poised to grow – by pursuing a sale of the business as a going concern," Shaz Kahng, appointed in November 2018 as Gymboree Group CEO, said in a news release issued late Wednesday by the San Francisco-based company.

The retailer in early December said it was reviewing its strategic options and intended to close its Crazy 8 store locations and significantly reduce the number of Gymboree locations in 2019.

Gymboree first filed for bankruptcy in June 2017 and closed 375 of 1,280 stores.

E-commerce impact

The explosion in online shopping in recent years has slammed brick-and-mortar stores, with a slew of major retailers declaring bankruptcy.

Former Sears exec says retailer has been on "death spiral" for decade

Separately, investor and Sears Chairman Eddie Lampert succeeded in his efforts at keeping 142 Sears stores running, if only for awhile.

In another illustration of the troubled times for retailers, Chico's on Friday said it close 250 stores in the U.S. during a three-year period. As late 2018, the women's clothing retailer operated 1,431 stores in the U.S. and Canada.

The parent company of Mattress Warehouse and Sleep Outfitters filed for bankruptcy protection on Friday, following the same move in October by Mattress Firm, which has since closed hundreds of its more than 3,200 stores.

First published on January 17, 2019

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