Bridal retailer Alfred Angelo Bridal’s bankruptcy auction earlier this month raised some $245,000 for its creditors, but otherwise didn’t reduce its $78 million debt load by much, according to a report from the Sun Sentinel.
The company's largest creditors are Czech Asset Management (which offered the company $54 million in loans over recent years) and credit-card processor Card Connect (which is owed $5 million in claims). No bidder emerged to buy the retailer’s merchandise in bulk; instead, smaller businesses and liquidators bid on dressings, wedding accessories and company assets, according to the report.
The bridal retailer filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidation in July, closing its stores worldwide and leaving many brides in the lurch.
It's been an abrupt end for a specialty retailer that started out as one Philadelphia shop in the 1930s and grew into a global business. Alfred Angelo Piccione and Edythe Piccione founded the bridal business and it was later run by their children. On June 29, Alfred Angelo’s headquarters reportedly faced an eviction lawsuit over unpaid rent, and shortly after, sudden store closures created chaos for customers who arrived at stores to pick up gowns only to find the locations closed for good.
The retailer has faced cataclysmic changes in bridal sales in recent decades. While plenty of brides hew to the white dress tradition, American weddings have always been looser than in other countries, thanks to a diverse mix of cultures. Those familiar with the wedding dress market, whether they experienced it as a bride or as a retail professional, know that the popular depiction isn’t the norm for all brides. While the typical wedding takes about 13 months to plan and the average cost of a wedding dress was $1,671 in 2015, customer tastes — as in every retail category — vary.
Retailers from H&M to Asos and ModCloth have entered the market, rolling out lines of wedding and bridesmaid dresses that are cheaper and more quickly available. Amazon itself has a page dedicated to weddings at its Handmade at Amazon unit. The idea isn’t new — J. Crew is credited as one of the first non-bridal retailers to introduce its own wedding line, launching in 2004.
This all appears to be taking its toll: J. Crew got out of the business last year, to the dismay of brides who liked its more casual approach, and David's Bridal appeared on Moody's Investors Service's February list of distressed retailers. Yet, Alfred Angelo's fall from the market could be a boon for David's Bridal, which in the aftermath of the bankruptcy took the opportunity to court brides who had purchased gowns from Alfred Angelo with 30% off its own wedding dresses and 20% off bridesmaid dresses.