Francesca's on Tuesday warned that it "may be required to delay, reduce and/or cease our operations and/or seek bankruptcy protection" if it's unable to generate or obtain the financing it needs to continue doing business. The company last month issued a going-concern warning that violated certain covenants in agreements with its lenders.
The apparel and accessories retailer also said it will delay filing its first-quarter earnings report, saying it needs additional time to assess the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on its "long-lived assets for the quarter, including the related income tax effect."
Francesca's will file its quarterly report "no later than 45 days after June 16," according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Most of Francesca's stores are small — the chain refers to them as "boutiques" — but there are quite a few of them. As of this month, the retailer runs 703 locations throughout the U.S., most of them in malls.
And all of them closed from March 25 to April 30, which was devastating to sales, the company said Tuesday. Even as many stores have reopened, the retailer warned that its troubles continue. Like many other retailers, Francesca's suspended rent payments in April on all stores, its headquarters and distribution center, and, while it intends to resume payments in July (including back rent as agreed), its financial position may not allow that, the company said in its filing.
The company's going-concern warning last month violated certain terms of its Amended ABL Credit Agreement and Term Loan Credit Agreement, as did its failure to pay rent, though lenders granted a waiver in the case of its rent situation, per the filing.
But it remains in a precarious financial position, and the retailer's previous hopes for a turnaround were dashed by the forced closures of its stores. Moreover, reopening stores is no guarantee that shoppers will return in sufficient numbers, out of fear of the ongoing disease outbreak or due to economic woes, or both, and doesn't preclude further closings if the outbreak surges again, the company also said.
"The extent to which the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact our results will depend on future developments that are highly uncertain and cannot be predicted at this time, including new information that may emerge concerning the severity of the virus and the actions to contain its impact," the company said.