Lord & Taylor, America’s Oldest Department Store, Files for Bankruptcy Protection

by Freya Drohan

Lord & Taylor, known and beloved for its iconic Holiday windows, is the latest retailer to fall victim to the coronavirus pandemic.

The department store’s owner, the fashion rental start-up Le Tote Inc., filed for Chapter 11 protection in Richmond, Virginia, on Sunday. According to Business of Fashion, Lord & Taylor has about $137.9 million of debt obligations and the company must soon submit a reorganization plan with the court. There are currently 38 stores and 651 employees.

Lord & Taylor, the oldest department store in the country, shuttered all stores temporarily in March due to the spread of the coronavirus. As per reports, San Francisco-based Le Tote plan to permanently close some stores, or find a new buyer, and will pivot to luxury try-on studios, apparel rental, and beauty subscriptions in order to draw a younger customer base. Liquidation sales will also happen at stores around the country when they reopen.

Le Tote purchased Lord & Taylor, which was founded in 1826 by British immigrants Samuel Lord and George Washington Taylor, in 2019. As part of the $75 million deal, Le Tote bought the rights to the stores, brand, and e-commerce site from Hudson’s Bay Co. The deal included an agreement that Hudson’s Bay Co. (the owner of Sak’s Fifth Avenue) would continue to cover Lord & Taylor’s rent for three years.

As brick and mortar retailers were forced to close their doors since March, America’s fashion stalwarts have been majorly impacted. Earlier this year, J. Crew Group Inc., Neiman Marcus Inc., J.C. Penney, and Brooks Brothers also filed for bankruptcy protection.

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