- David's Bridal has closed on a $70 million dollar term loan from the credit subsidiary of the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board.
- With the closing of the loan, the wedding apparel retailer said in a press release that it had $63 million in unrestricted cash and no borrowings on its $125 million revolving credit facility.
- David's Bridal plans to use the loan to fund operations and for general corporate purposes. CEO Jim Marcum said in the release that the retailer is "executing well and accelerating its additional growth initiatives."
Few if any apparel categories were untouched by the pandemic. Most were hurt, and some very badly. Occasion wear had a particularly rough year as many consumers avoided both stores and social occasions to protect themselves from COVID-19 exposure.
Weddings — with their buffets, dancing, frequent travel requirements, and general intimacy and merry-making — were particularly hard hit. The Wedding Report estimated, based on survey data through August, that weddings declined by roughly half in 2020 as couples either postponed or canceled their weddings.
On March 18, 2020, David's Bridal announced it would close all of its stores along with much of the rest of the retail industry as the country as a whole tried to "flatten" the rise of COVID-19 cases. During the closures, the stores were still accessible for curbside pickup, and the company advertised its 24/7 concierge service. As the pandemic wore on, the retailer made deeper adjustments, furloughing employees and cutting management salary.
But even in a turbulent year, David's Bridal announced a long string of new features and investments in its business, both before and during the pandemic.
Among other moves, the bridal retailer in 2020 introduced wedding planning tools for customers, launched virtual stylists and appointments, appointed a new chief technology officer, unveiled a concierge chatbot named Zoey, partnered with mobile wallet marketing platform Popwallet to provide coupons and rebates, debuted augmented reality shopping and acquired the website Rustic Wedding Chic.
In short, David's Bridal has been busy enhancing its shopping experience and custom offering, which is likely its best and only path toward continued relevance in a wedding space seemingly permanently disrupted by technology, competition and casualization. And having been through a Chapter 11 in recent years, David's Bridal knows all too well the dangers of that disruption.
The pace of improvement efforts hasn't stopped with the new year. Already in 2021 David's Bridal has partnered with designer Betsey Johnson on an exclusive shoe collection, launched a Quinceañera label and introduced a value line of ready-to-wear dresses.
All of those efforts will be on offer when couples return to the aisle, as many anticipate will happen. The Wedding Report projects a spike in weddings this year, rocketing not only out of last year's slump but surpassing the number of weddings in 2019 by about 640,000, for a total of roughly 2.8 million weddings in 2021.
The retailer's management is confident in a rebound in weddings this year as well. "We are experiencing strong momentum as COVID-related restrictions continue to ease, weddings return, and pent-up demand from last year plays out over the course of this year," Marcum said.
New capital from the CPP loan will help David's Bridal "fully capitalize on the unique opportunity before us," Marcum added.