The latest retailer in the United States to wind up because of the novel coronavirus pandemic hit is one of America’s oldest clothing brands Brooks Brothers as the company filed for bankruptcy protection.
Legal protection from creditors was sought on Wednesday while it looks for a buyer by the menswear company which is more than 200 years old. Some of its stores had already been closed in the US and now the company is preparing to shut down its factories in the country.
The company which is best known for its suits is now a part of the list of retailers in the US that have been forced to close its business because of the pandemic including J Crew, JC Penney and Neiman Marcus.
The history of the company dates back to 1818 and dozens of US presidents, including John F Kennedy and Barack Obama, have adorned the brand’s clothes.
Currently the company has more than 500 stores globally with about 50 per cent of them in the United States. A total of more than 4,000 people are currently employed by the company.
Italian businessman Claudio Del Vecchio, whose family founded Luxottica, is the current owner of the company since they purchased it in 2001. Previously the brand was owned by by Marks & Spencer since 1988.
To be justified to the brand, even before the pandemic hit the US and the rest of eh world, the company had been exploring a sale because it had taken a hit due to a change in consumer preferences in favor of more causal office attire as well as a boom in online sale and rise in competition from online companies.
“Industry headwinds were only intensified by the pandemic,” Mr Del Vecchio said. “Seeking protection to facilitate an efficient sale of the business is the best next step for the company to achieve its goals, over any other alternative.”
Brooks Brothers styles itself as a classic American brand. The company is often credited for popularizing “preppy” men’s staples in the US which includes madras prints, seersucker suits, argyle socks and the ever-present button-down shirt.
It had assets and liabilities between $500m and $1bn, he company claimed in a court filing.
The brand was taking steps to ensure its survival, said Del Vecchio in an interview with the New York Times last month discussing the three US factory closures. The manufacturing units of the company in New York, Massachusetts and North Carolina employed nearly 700 people.
“At this moment, all resources need to be maintained and saved to make sure we can come out on the other side of the crisis,” he said.
(Adapted from BBC.com)