S. Korean Furniture Firm Seeks Bankruptcy Protection

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The furniture industry slump has claimed another victim: Borneo International Furniture Inc., which operates a small chain of office and home furniture stores under the name BIF, has filed for bankruptcy court protection.

Company lawyer Carl Grumer on Thursday blamed the bankruptcy on the economic downturn.

BIF Inc., the U.S. arm of a South Korean company of the same name, filed a petition under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code on Dec. 27, citing assets of $40.5 million and liabilities of $64.7 million. Under Chapter 11, a company is protected from its creditors and is allowed to continue operating while it works out a plan to repay its debts.

The City of Industry-based company operates 13 furniture stores in Southern California. The company's main office was closed Thursday and officials were unavailable for comment.

Grumer said the company has some unprofitable locations it would like to close. "Like a lot of other furniture retailers, some of the locations are more profitable than others. The company hopes to reorganize in a more profitable framework," Grumer said.

BIF, a leading furniture retailer in Asia, focuses on contemporary furniture for the mass market. The parent company also recently filed a bankruptcy petition in South Korea, Grumer said.

As the recession has squeezed the white-collar furniture-buying market, particularly in Southern California, several furniture chains have closed or retreated to bankruptcy court. They include Barker Bros., Ortho Mattress, W. J. Sloan, Angelus, Furnishings 2000 and Stylus.

Most recently, Stor Furnishings International agreed to be taken over by Ikea, its much larger rival in low-cost, ready-to-assemble furniture.

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