Retail Casualties of the Coronavirus Pandemic

Retail Casualties of the Coronavirus Pandemic
A man walks past signs in the windows of Lord & Taylor, advertising a store closing sale, in Boston, Mass., on Aug. 5, 2020. (Brian Snyder/Reuters)

Retail magnate Philip Green’s Arcadia, which owns Topshop and many other British fashion brands, filed for administration on Monday, the biggest British corporate insolvency so far of the coronavirus pandemic.

Here are some other high-profile retail names hit by the virus outbreak:

United States:

Neiman Marcus

The 113-year-old luxury department store chain Neiman Marcus Holding Co. said on Sept. 25 it had completed its Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection process, emerging from one of the highest-profile retail collapses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Its restructuring plan eliminated more than $4 billion of debt and $200 million of annual interest expenses.

J.C. Penney

A U.S. judge on Nov. 10 approved a deal to rescue J.C. Penney Co. Inc. from bankruptcy proceedings precipitated by the coronavirus pandemic, averting a liquidation that would have put the beleaguered department store chain out of business and jeopardized tens of thousands of jobs.

J. Crew

J. Crew Group Inc. filed for bankruptcy protection on May 4 with a plan to hand over control to lenders. The New York-based chain, known for preppy clothing, filed for bankruptcy in a Virginia federal court with an agreement to eliminate $1.65 billion of debt in exchange for ceding ownership to lenders. In addition to cancelling debt, J. Crew planned to permanently close some stores.

Lord & Taylor

One of the world’s oldest department store operators, it was founded by two English immigrants in New York City in 1826, Lord & Taylor filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in August.

Brooks Brothers

Brooks Brothers filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on July 8, saying its strategic review process was still underway and the bankruptcy filing would help it obtain additional financing to facilitate the sale.

The 200-year old apparel retailer, the first to tailor the button-down Polo shirt in 1896, had already been struggling as corporate America relaxed its dress code for employees, allowing them to choose casual dressing over bespoke suits.

Tailored Brands

Men’s Wearhouse owner Tailored Brands filed on Aug. 2 for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas.

Stage Stores

Discount department store operator Stage Stores Inc. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on May 10 with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas. It said it would seek bids for the business or any of its assets, while it also begins to wind down its operations.

Ann Taylor
Ascena Retail Group, owner of Ann Taylor and Lane Bryant, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on July 23, succumbing to the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic.



British department store group Debenhams went into administration on April 9 for the second time in 12 months, seeking to protect itself from legal action by creditors during the coronavirus crisis that could have pushed it into liquidation.

JD Sports is in exclusive talks with Debenhams over a potential rescue takeover, The Times newspaper reported on Nov. 23.

Laura Ashley

Fashion retailer Laura Ashley Holdings said on March 23 it would permanently shut 70 stores and cut hundreds of jobs as it appointed administrators following a damaging blow to its business from the coronavirus pandemic. Laura Ashley brand homeware will be sold from next year in stores of UK retailer Next under a deal, UK media reported in early November.

Oasis, Warehouse

British fashion brands Oasis and Warehouse, which were owned by Icelandic bank Kaupthing, fell into administration in mid-April after failing to find buyers and said COVID-19 had had a devastating impact on business. Online fashion group Boohoo said in June it was buying Oasis and Warehouse for 5.25 million pounds, but their stores are all closing.

Edinburgh Woollen Mill, Peacocks, Jaeger

The owner of British fashion chains Edinburgh Woollen Mill, Peacocks and Jaeger fell into administration in November, putting 4,716 jobs at risk. The retailers are part of privately-owned EWP Group.

Monsoon, Accessorize

Fashion retailers Monsoon and Accessorize went into administration in June after a UK national lockdown made business unviable, and were then bought out of administration by their founder with plans to close 35 stores, make 545 staff redundant and seek rent cuts for remaining shops to try and stay afloat.

Go Outdoors

JD Sports on June 23 appointed Deloitte as administrator for its loss-making outdoor clothing chain Go Outdoors as it bought back assets of the unit in a pre-pack administration deal.

Go Outdoors, which JD first bought for 112 million pounds ($149 million) four years ago, has struggled with significant losses as sales declined at its 67 stores, and JD had been exploring options for the division while the coronavirus lockdown mounted further pressure.



Reitmans, which was founded in 1926 and retails fashion apparel through 576 stores across Canada and online, said in May it had obtained preliminary approval to seek bankruptcy protection in order to restructure its operations as the COVID-19 pandemic caused prolonged store closures. In June it said it would permanently shut down its Thyme Maternity and Addition Elle brands.

Le Chateau
Canadian fashion retailer Le Chateau Inc., which sells occasion- and party-wear, said on Oct. 23 it had sought creditor protection and was preparing to liquidate its assets and wind down operations after taking a hit from the COVID-19 impact.

Some other high-profile retail casualties around the world:

Australia’s PAS Group

Melbourne-based clothing retailer PAS Group Ltd. said on May 29 it had entered voluntary administration to review its operations, citing tough financial market conditions as the effects of the coronavirus pandemic continued to unfold.

South Africa’s Edcon

Edcon, one of South Africa’s oldest retail groups and owner of department store chain Edgars and budget clothing retailer Jet, applied for a form of bankruptcy protection in April after a coronavirus lockdown shut its stores across the country. Parts of Edcon are being sold as part of a restructuring.

Sweden’s MQ

Swedish fashion retailer MQ said on April 16 it would file for bankruptcy, citing plunging sales because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

By Susan Fenton