Pan­demic adds to Moores’ woes

Is­land stores to re­main open, while par­ent com­pany goes through re­struc­tur­ing

Times Colonist - - Business - DAR­RON KLOSTER

Moores Cloth­ing for Men, which has locations in Lang­ford, Nanaimo and Up­town shop­ping centre in Saanich, is the lat­est re­tail chain to file for bank­ruptcy pro­tec­tion amid the pan­demic.

Tailored Brands, which also owns Men’s Wear­house and Jos. A. Bank stores, said over the week­end it will con­tinue to op­er­ate most stores dur­ing re­struc­tur­ing and ex­pected to re­duce its funded debt by $630 mil­lion.

COVID-19 re­stric­tions have se­verely lim­ited wed­dings and office work since March, hit­ting the cloth­ing re­tail and rental sec­tors par­tic­u­larly hard.

The three Is­land stores — in­clud­ing Nanaimo’s Brook’s Land­ing Mall and West­shore Town Centre in Lang­ford — were shut down in March and re­opened with re­duced staff in late June.

Lawrence Larsen, man­ager of the Up­town store, said the three Is­land locations will con­tinue to op­er­ate.

At least two stores — both in Sur­rey — have not re­opened.

Larsen said the Up­town lo­ca­tion is op­er­at­ing with­out 40 per cent of its usual staff.

He said sales since re­open­ing have been “con­sis­tent, but over­all the business is re­ally down” from pre­vi­ous years.

Di­nesh Lathi, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Tailored Brands, said in a state­ment to clients over the week­end the pan­demic has al­tered the way peo­ple live and work.

“It means fewer in-per­son meet­ings, wed­ding cel­e­bra­tions and spe­cial events. Sim­ply put, peo­ple are stay­ing home more, and our clothes are bet­ter suited to be­ing out and about,” Lathi said.

He said the com­pany is “mak­ing ma­jor shifts” by creat­ing a leaner struc­ture to adapt to the re­al­i­ties of to­day’s re­tail en­vi­ron­ment.

“In July, we an­nounced some store clo­sures. How­ever, we will con­tinue to have stores across Canada op­er­at­ing as usual. Noth­ing about our de­ci­sion to seek Chap­ter 11 pro­tec­tion changes that.”

Mean­while, Lord & Tay­lor, the old­est re­tailer in the U.S., also said it was seek­ing bank­ruptcy pro­tec­tion over the week­end, length­en­ing the list of ma­jor re­tail chains that have fal­tered dur­ing the pan­demic.

House­hold names, many long­time an­chors in malls, were al­ready strug­gling to keep up with con­sumers mov­ing to online sales.

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, on Sun­day.

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

Tailored Brands was strug­gling even be­fore the pan­demic lock­downs smoth­ered any de­mand for suits or ties. It wasn’t alone. Last month, Brooks Broth­ers, the 200-year-old com­pany that dressed nearly ev­ery U.S. pres­i­dent, filed for bank­ruptcy pro­tec­tion. Its ri­val, Bar­neys New York, is be­ing dis­man­tled after fil­ing for bank­ruptcy last year.

Dozens of re­tail­ers, big and small, have filed for U.S. 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 U.S.-based chains have sought bank­ruptcy pro­tec­tion since the pan­demic started.

Oth­ers 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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