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Lord & Taylor files for bankruptcy; Men’s Wearhouse owner follows suit

Lord & Taylor's flagship Fifth Avenue store
Women peer in the front door of Lord & Taylor’s flagship Fifth Avenue store in New York in January 2019.
(Kathy Willens / Associated Press)

Lord & Taylor, America’s oldest retailer, is seeking bankruptcy protection, as is the owner of Men’s Wearhouse and Jos. A. Banks, lengthening the list of major retail chains that have faltered during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Companies, some with roots dating to the early 19th century, were already suffering from the shift in the things that people buy and where they buy them. Much of that activity has moved online.

Lord & Taylor, which began as a Manhattan dry goods store in 1824, was sold to the French rental clothing company Le Tote Inc. last year. Both filed for bankruptcy protection, separately, in the Eastern Court of Virginia on Sunday.

Lord & Taylor says it’s looking for a buyer.

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Last year, the department store sold its flagship building on New York’s Fifth Avenue after more than a century in the 11-story building. There are several dozen Lord & Taylor stores across the country.

Tailored Brands, which owns Men’s Wearhouse and Jos. A. Banks stores, was struggling even before shelter-in-place orders and the move toward working from home smothered any demand for suits or ties. It wasn’t alone.

J.C. Penney Co., the department-store chain that filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Friday, says it will close about 29% of its stores.

Last month, Brooks Bros., the 200-year-old company that has dressed nearly every U.S. president, filed for bankruptcy protection. Its rival, Barneys New York, is being dismantled after filing for bankruptcy last year.

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Tailored Brands filed for Chapter 11 protection Sunday in the Southern District of Texas.

Men’s Wearhouse and Jos. A. Banks stores, along with K&G Fashion Superstore and Moores Clothing for Men, all owned by Tailored, will continue to operate during restructuring. The company said it expects to reduce its funded debt by at least $630 million.

Dozens of retailers, big and small, have filed for Chapter 11 protection this year. The pace through the first half of 2020 far exceeds the number of retail bankruptcies for all of last year. About two dozen stores have sought bankruptcy protection since the pandemic started.

They include J. Crew, J.C. Penney, Neiman Marcus, Stage Stores and Ascena Retail Group, which owns Lane Bryant in addition to Ann Taylor.


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