Retailers Chasing Fast Fashion Stumble Under Heavy Buyout Debts

by MR Magazine Staff

Visitors to the newly redeveloped Kings Plaza shopping mall in Brooklyn later this year will encounter brand-new, multilevel Primark and Zara stores. Names not on the directory? Debt-laden older brands such as J. Crew, Rue21 and True Religion. “Euro fast fashion,” featuring trendy clothing that can move from catwalks to stores in mere weeks, has taken the U.S. by storm, and distressed specialty apparel retailers are among the biggest casualties. Their business models and balance sheets are in tatters, especially at smaller and slower chains that jacked up debt during leveraged buyouts. That’s left them short on cash just when they need it to buy updated systems and keep their shelves constantly refreshed to keep pace with their newer, nimbler rivals. The result has been the biggest spate of restructurings and bankruptcies since the Great Recession. There are more on the way. “Companies that have the highest leverage are going to be the least able to address those challenges and invest the capital necessary to explore different strategies and evolve the business models,” said Chris Grubb, a managing director in Greenhill & Co.’s restructuring group who focuses on struggling retailers. “There will continue to be a slew of these smaller filings.” Read more at Bloomberg.