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Aeropostale seeks six months to beat bankruptcy

NEW YORK — Struggling teen apparel retailer Aeropostale Inc filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Wednesday (May 4), succumbing to years of losses as shoppers thronged fast fashion retailers and competitors.

A customer enters an Aeropostale store in Broomfield, Colorado, on May 14, 2015. Reuters file photo

A customer enters an Aeropostale store in Broomfield, Colorado, on May 14, 2015. Reuters file photo

NEW YORK — Struggling teen apparel retailer Aeropostale Inc filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Wednesday (May 4), succumbing to years of losses as shoppers thronged fast fashion retailers and competitors.

The mall-based retailer listed assets in the range of US$100 million (S$135 million) to US$500 million, and liabilities of between US$100 million and US$500 million, according to a court filing.

Aeropostale said it plans to finance its operations during its bankruptcy through a US$160 million loan from Crystal Financial LLC combined with operating cash flow.

The company also announced an initial store closure list of 113 U.S. locations, as well as all 41 stores in Canada.

The fate of Aeropostale’s outlets in Singapore is unclear as Jay Gee Melwani Group — which distributes the brand in the city state and in Malaysia — could not be reached for comment. The Singapore firm operates Aeropostale outlets at Bugis+, CityLink Mall, Ngee Ann City and ION Orchard, according to its website.

Retailers in general, including Singapore, are facing tough times due to the economic slowdown and rise of online shopping. Jay Gee Melwani had earlier said it will shutter eight stores in various malls showcasing the British brand New Look and French menswear chain Celio in the second half of the year, after the Al-Futtaim Group announced it will shut 10 loss-making outlets in the Republic under its distribution and retailing arm RSH later this year.

The difficult market for teen apparel has triggered bankruptcy filings by high-profile retailers such as American Apparel, Quiksilver and Sports Authority over the past year.

The company said in March it was exploring strategic alternatives, including a sale, citing a dispute with a vendor, MGF Sourcing US.

MGF is an affiliate of private-equity firm Sycamore Partners, which had thrown a lifeline of US$150 million to the struggling apparel retailer in 2014 and previously owned an 8 per cent stake.

Aeropostale expects to emerge out of bankruptcy within six months with a clear resolution of its ongoing disputes with Sycamore Partners, among other things, it said in a statement.

Aeropostale said in April that it would delay filing its annual report for the year ended January 30, 2016 as it explores strategic options.

Several US apparel retailers are also bearing the brunt of customers flocking to online retailers and fast-fashion retailers such as H&M, Forever 21 and Inditex’s Zara.

Although Aeropostale continues to struggle with falling sales, its rivals such as American Eagle Outfitters Inc and Abercrombie & Fitch Co have managed to turn around their businesses by controlling inventories and responding faster to changing fashion trends.

Established by RH Macy’s & Co. in the early 1980s, Aeropostale made its stock market debut in 2002 but the New York Stock Exchange decided to delist the shares in April.

The company operated 739 Aeropostale stores in 50 states and Puerto Rico, 41 in Canada and 25 PS from Aeropostale stores in 12 states, as of May 1, 2016.

The case is in US Bankruptcy Court, District of New York, Case No: 16-11275. AGENCIES

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