Thousands of businesses have been driven to bankruptcy by the coronavirus, and you’ve likely never heard of most of them. But a handful of household names, many of them already struggling before the pandemic, are among the firms closing stores, laying off employees, and restructuring due the economic turmoil of the last few months. And while bankruptcy doesn’t often spell death for large companies, it can sometimes lead to liquidation of the business.
In the first half of 2020, more than 3,600 companies filed for bankruptcy, according to Epiq. Just over 600 filed in June, up 43 percent from June of last year. And experts predict that things are only going to get worse, the Times reports:
Edward I. Altman, the creator of the Z score, a widely used method of predicting business failures, estimated that this year will easily set a record for so-called mega bankruptcies — filings by companies with $1 billion or more in debt. And he expects the number of merely large bankruptcies — at least $100 million — to challenge the record set the year after the 2008 economic crisis.
Here are some of the biggest name firms to file for bankruptcy in 2020:
J.Crew: The Times called J.Crew the coronavirus’s “first major retail casualty” when its parent company filed for Chapter 11 protection in early May. The company has said “day-to-day operations” will continue.
Gold’s Gym: The gym chain proactively closed 30 company-owned gyms in April before declaring for bankruptcy in May. It said the decision will not “prevent us from continuing to support our system of nearly 700 gyms around the world.”
Neiman Marcus: After years of building an unsustainable debt burden, Neiman Marcus was brutalized by the coronavirus, which caused all of its 43 stores to temporarily close. The luxury chain is now considering closures around the country, including in Manhattan, where it opened a three-story, 188,000-square-foot behemoth at Hudson Yards just last year.
J.C. Penney: Prior to coronavirus, the footprint of the once-iconic mall retailer had fallen to less than a quarter of what it was in 2001. After its mid-May bankruptcy filing, it’s going to fall more. The company is planning to shutter 154 stores.
Hertz: If no one is traveling, no one needs to rent a car. Car rental giant Hertz was dealt a “rapid, sudden and dramatic” blow by the coronavirus, the company said in May, leading to the biggest bankruptcy filing of 2020.
Tuesday Morning: Pandemic-inspired shutdowns created an “insurmountable financial hurdle” for the off-price retailer, which is planning to close more than 200 of its 700 stores.
PQ New York: The owner of Le Pain Quotidien closed all 98 of its U.S. locations during the pandemic and sold them to another restaurant company that will reopen 35 of the locations and, presumably, close the rest.
GNC: The 85-year-old vitamin retailer saw 30 percent of its stores in the U.S. and Canada temporarily close during the height of the pandemic. The “dramatic negative impact” of these closures led to a bankruptcy filing in late June. Roughly 20 percent, or 1,200 of its 5,800 retail stores will close.
24 Hour Fitness: After its bankruptcy filing on June 14, 24 Hour Fitness will transition 133 of its locations to Zero Hour Fitness. That is to say, they’re closing.
Chuck E. Cheese: On the same day that CEC Entertainment, which owns 550 Chuck E. Cheese and Peter Piper Pizza locations, reopened 266 venues, it also filed for bankruptcy. The company said the filing will allow it to “strengthen our financial structure as we recover from what has undoubtedly been the most challenging event in our company’s history.”
Lucky Brand: Founded in 1990, the denim company Lucky Brand will close 13 of its 200 stores after filing for bankruptcy brought on by the coronavirus. “The COVID-19 pandemic has severely impacted sales across all channels,” interim CEO Matthew Kaness said in a statement. It also announced plans for a sale to SPARC Group, which owns the brands Nautica and Aéropostale.
Brooks Brothers: The iconic clothing company isn’t calling it quits, but it is up for a major restructuring after a bankruptcy filing on July 8. Owner Claudio Del Vecchio told The Wall Street Journal that the pandemic ravaged revenues for a company already struggling amid a national shift to more casual dress. Its three U.S. factories are slated to close in mid-August, and the company will search for a new buyer.
Sur La Table: Nearly 50 years after the first location of the upscale kitchen shop opened in Seattle’s Pike Place Market, Sur La Table declared bankruptcy, citing the pandemic and preexisting problems in the retail environment. It’s closing 56 of its 121 stores, but CEO Jason Goldberger said in a statement that the post-bankruptcy “sale process will result in a revitalized Sur La Table, positioned to thrive in a post COVID-19 retail environment.”
New York & Company: The mall brand’s parent company, RTW Retailwinds, filed for bankruptcy this month and announced plans “to close a significant portion, if not all, of its brick-and-mortar stores.”
Ann Taylor and Lane Bryant: The company that began in 1962 as Dressbarn and became Ascena Retail Group in 2011 filed for bankruptcy in July. Ascena, which had 53,000 employees last year, plans to close more than half of its 2,800 stores, which also include Loft, Lou & Grey, and Catherines stores. The Times notes a striking detail about the retailer’s fall over the past five years: “Ascena’s stock, which traded at nearly $300 a share in July 2015, had plunged below $1 by the time of the company’s bankruptcy filing.”
California Pizza Kitchen: Some pizza companies have seen increased sales during the pandemic, but they’ve done so by relying on carryout and delivery. California Pizza Kitchen is largely a sit-down restaurant, and in late July, the company filed for bankruptcy. CPK plans to keep its 200-plus restaurants open as it restructures.
Lord & Taylor: Another department store bites the dust. Nearly 200 years after it was founded, America’s oldest department store filed for bankruptcy Sunday. The move comes only a year after Le Tote, a clothing-rental company, bought the iconic brand and its inventory for $100 million. Its plan was to move its younger customers to the brick-and-mortar Lord & Taylor stores and move the store’s older customers to its online business. The deal closed in November, and five months later, the world shut down.
Men’s Wearhouse: Tailored Brands, the parent company of Men’s Wearhouse and Jos. A. Bank, filed for bankruptcy Sunday, after months of declining sales due to the pandemic. Last month, the company reported that first quarter sales were down 60 percent. According to the Wall Street Journal, the company operates 1,400 stores and employs roughly 18,000 workers.