Mall-based retailer Things Remembered is preparing to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and close most of its 400 stores, Reuters reports, citing unnamed sources. The company has hired investment bank Miller Buckfire & Co, owned by Stifel Financial and restructuring lawyers at Kirkland & Ellis, according to the report.
The retailer, founded 40 years ago to sell engraved gifts, was acquired in 2012 by private equity firm Madison Dearborn from two other PE firms, according to a press release. Madison Dearborn exited that investment in 2017, the firm told Retail Dive in an email. The company is now backed by a consortium that includes private equity firm KKR, which was involved in a 2016 restructuring, according to Reuters.
As of at least June 2018, Things Remembered operated 450 stores in North America and an e-commerce site. The retailer is under a cash crunch and shoulders roughly $120 million in debt, Reuters said. A company spokesperson declined Retail Dive’s request for comment.
Things Remembered may soon be forgotten.
The retailer's executive ranks have been through something of a revolving door, according to the LinkedIn pages of several employees. The company's move last year to sell on Amazon was an attempt to chase more customers, according to CEO Nelson Tejada.
But it's difficult for any retailer to chase much of anything hampered by debt. A decade or so of private equity ownership and a restructuring attempt three years ago have done little to alleviate its misfortunes.
If it does file for bankruptcy protection as Reuters reports it likely will, the company joins several private equity-backed retailers in doing so, as a recent Retail Dive analysis found. Many retailers that recently filed for bankruptcy carried debt loads left over from leveraged buyouts by private equity firms.
Retail Dive's analysis — based on merger and acquisition data from PitchBook, Debtwire and Retail Dive's own research — found that 19, or 15.7% of major retailers acquired by private equity firms since 2002, have filed for Chapter 11, and more than half of those happened in the past two years. Seven were in 2017, equal to the total in the preceding decade, that research found. Among them were household names, such as Toys R Us, Payless, The Limited, Gymboree, H.H. Gregg and True Religion.