Filing Alert: Samuels Jewelers Files… A “Chapter 44”?!

Texas-based retail jewelry store operator Samuels Jewelers has filed its fourth Chapter 11 bankruptcy case. This time, the beleaguered company is hoping for a going concern sale.

The First Three(!) Chapter 11 Cases

Samuels Jewlers traces its origins to a jewelry chain founded in 1891, Barry’s Jewelers, as a single store in Los Angeles. In the 1980s, Barry’s rapidly expanded into indoor shopping malls.  At the time, it was one of the fastest-growing jewelry chains in the country.  But Barry’s experienced small waves of unprofitability, filing Chapter 11 petitions in 1992 and 1997.  Following the second bankruptcy, it changed its name to Samuels Jewelers, its most recognizable brand.  The company filed its third bankruptcy in 2003, emerging with new owners. It later relocated to Texas.

Who Is Samuels Jewelers?

emerald-1137412_1920Gitanjali Gems, an Indian public company, acquired the company in 2006.  Samuels Jewelers operates over 120 stores across 23 states. Its brand names include Roger Jewelers, Andrews Jewelers, Schubach Jewelers, and Samuels Diamonds. In addition to its retail stores, the company has an e-commerce operation.

Why Has It Filed Another Bankruptcy Case?

The company cites several operational problems leading to its bankruptcy filing:

  • Increased industry competition from discount and e-commerce stores;
  • Operational deficiencies;
  • Climbing expenses;
  • A failure to keep up with customer preferences and build up of stale inventory.

The company has also been hard-hit by negative publicity associated with an investigation by the Indian Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into Gitanjali – Samuel Jewelers’ sole equity holder and one of its suppliers and lenders. The CBI has alleged that Gitanjali and others defrauded multiple Indian banks. Samuels’ states that some of its former directors, board members, and executives have been implicated, including its former CFO and president. While Gitanjali is no longer operating, this has disrupted Samuels Jewelers’ product supply and funding sources. And the situation has caused the company to lose standing with vendors, resulting in terminated relationships and more supply chain disruption. Moreover, according to the company new details and allegations continue to surface.

Samuels is at least the second jewelry company to file a chapter 11 case this year in the aftermath of a CBI investigation. In February, Firestar Diamond filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection following news reports in India that its majority shareholder and parent had colluded with Punjab National Bank to obtain over $1 billion in unauthorized loans.

The (Hail Mary) Sale Effort

Although Samuels Jewelers says it is seeking a sale, its filings indicate it has yet entered into a purchase agreement with anyone. In fact, it has not even hired an investment banker. That is “in process,” it says. But the company states optimistically that it has received “some indication of interest” and is “hopeful” that a sale will be possible.

Meanwhile, Samuels Jewelers plans to start selling excess inventory and run store closing sales.  It has enlisted a joint venture of Gordon Brothers Retail Partners and Hilco Merchant Resources as an asset disposition consultant to help with that effort.

Because Samuels Jewelers is pursuing a potential going-concern sale, the consulting agreement includes a fiduciary out provision to allow the  company to terminate the agreement and pursue a partial or full going-concern sale.

The Committee Formation Meeting

girl-1438138_1920.jpgThe committee formation meeting is set for Thursday, August 16, 2018, at 10:00 a.m. It will be held at The Du Pont Hotel in Wilmington, DE. While you’re there, you can check out the “classy nouveau Victorian-inspired” lobby makeover by acclaimed New York architect and interior designer Campion Platt. Or stay in touch with your office with their new, top of the line Wi-Fi.  But definitely stay inside.  The weather forecast?  83 degrees, a downright tropical 65% humidity, and scattered thunderstorms.

Case Information

The case number is 18-11818, and it is pending in the Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware. The case has been assigned to Judge Kevin Carey. Prime Clerk is the claims and noticing agent.  For more information, you can view the company’s “first-day” global declaration here.

Mette K.

Filing Alert: Real Mex Files “Chapter 22” Bankruptcy Case

Real Mex Restaurants, a California-based company and one of the nation’s largest full-service Mexican casual dining restaurant chain operators, filed for “Chapter 22” protection on Monday, August 6, 2018.

Who Is Real Mex?

Real Mex operates three restaurant chain brands: El Torito, Chevy’s Fresh Mex, and Acapulco Mexican Restaurant.  It also operates two El Torito Grills, Singual, and Laguna Beach landmark, Las Brisas. From a high of approximately 128 restaurants in 2012, today it operates about 70 restaurants.  Almost all are in California. In addition, Real Mex has 11 franchised restaurants across the US.

The First Chapter 11 Case

The Real Mex debtors purchased the restaurant family in 2012 through a Chapter 11 bankruptcy sale. At that time, Tennenbaum and Z Capital were secured noteholders. They emerged as the new company’s majority owners. Today, the Real Mex debtors include a holding company, RM Holdco LC, and five affiliates.  

Why Has Real Mex Filed a 2nd Bankruptcy Case?

Real Mex cites to many problems leading to its bankruptcy filing:

  • Operational inefficiencies;
  • Losses and shut-down costs associated with an unprofitable centralized food purchasing and distribution service and specialty product manufacturing business;
  • Millions of dollars in costs, and lingering litigation, associated with shuttering underperforming locations;
  • Millions of dollars in costs resulting from failed expansion efforts;
  • Risk-management expenses;
  • Rising employee wages and high rent costs, particularly in California;
  • Deferred maintenance at some locations; and
  • Rising financing costs.

The Sale  Effort

Real Mex has engaged industry-expert Piper Jaffray to market the company for sale. Ultimately, the process resulted in a high bid by one of the company’s current owners, Z Capital.  The “headline” purchase price is $46.75 million. Real Mex has proposed the following sale timeline:

  • Bid deadline: Sept. 21, 2018
  • Auction: Oct. 4, 2018
  • Sale hearing: Early October 2018

Case Information

The case number is 18-11795, and it is pending in the Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware. The case has been assigned to Judge Mary F. Walrath. KCC is the claims and noticing agent.  If you are looking for more information, you can view the company’s “first-day” global declaration here.

Mette K.

Bertucci’s: Filing Alert & Committee Formation Meeting Notice

Italian restaurant owner and operator Bertucci’s Corporation filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on April 15, 2018.  The case is pending in Delaware.

Company Overview

Bertucci Info.jpgBertucci’s  was formerly known as NE Restaurant Company, Inc.  It changed its name to Bertucci’s Corporation in August 2001. Founded in 1981, the company is based in Northborough, MA.  Today Bertucci’s owns and operates a chain of 59 casual dining Italian restaurants in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic.

A Bankruptcy Sale

The filing sets up a process to sell the company to Right Lane Dough Acquisition, LLC (an affiliate of Right Lane Capital) or an overbidder.  The proposed purchase price is $1.7 million in cash and a “credit bid” of up to $4 million.  In addition, the buyer will provide the company with exit financing in the form of $14 million in new second lien notes.

A Struggling Restaurant Market

Like others before it, Bertucci blames its bankruptcy filing on a proliferation of fast-casual restaurants and market oversaturation.

Bertucci’s, and the casual family dining industry generally, have suffered “a prolonged negative operating trend in an ever increasing competitive price environment.”

Since 2011, the company has experienced year-over-year declines in sales and revenue.

In fact, Reorg. First Day states that Bertucci’s is the third Massachusetts-based restaurant chain it has covered in recent years.  The others were Boston-based fast casual restaurant Cosi and the Sagamore-based restaurant chain Bugaboo Creek Steakhouse.

The Committee Formation Meeting

The company states it owes roughly $9 million to vendors, landlords, and other unsecured creditors.  The U.S. Trustee has scheduled a meeting to form a committee of unsecured creditors in the case.  The meeting will take place at 10:00 a.m. on Friday, April 27, 2018.  It will be held at the Delaware State Bar Association on 405 King Street, 2nd floor, in Wilmington, Delaware.  If you would like a copy of the formation notice, it is available here.

Barn Clouds.jpegThe weather forecast?  A very civilized high of 66 degrees.  With mostly cloudy skies becoming partly cloudy later in the day.  Because it is always partly cloudy in Delaware.  Except when its raining.  Or snowing.

Mette K.

Filing Alert: #Remington Files Chapter 11 in Delaware

Without a foil to drive sales, and beset by litigation, Remington Outdoor Company has sought Chapter 11 protection Delaware.

Company Background.

Founded in 1816, Remington is one of the oldest gun makers in the world.  Its products include the Bushmaster AR-15 style rifle that was used in the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting. Twenty children between six and seven years old, as well as six adult staff members, were killed. The company has been sued by victims’ family members.  In addition, the company’s sales fell 30% last year in the midst of an industry-wide “Trump slump.”

The Fast-Track Plan and Support Agreement.

Remington reports $100 million to $500 million in assets and liabilities. Its filing includes:

  • A plan, disclosure statement, and restructuring support agreement between Remington and its major secured creditors;
  • A motion seeking approval of a $100 million in financing, a $45 million bridge loan, a $193 million asset-based loan facility.

Under the fast-track plan, Remington’s key creditors – reportedly, Franklin Templeton Investments and JPMorgan Asset Management – would exchange their debt holdings for most of the company’s equity. Concurrently, the company’s current owner, Cerberus Capital, would relinquish its ownership interests. Remington has already begun soliciting approval of its plan. It has asked to forgo the usual procedure of filing a full schedule of its debts and assets.  And it has requested a voting deadline of April 26th and hopes to confirm its plan around May 3rd.

Remington has said that its efforts to finance a turnaround were complicated by parties who were reluctant to lend to a gun manufacturer. The creditors in the current deal reportedly agreed to the “debt-for-equity swap” prior to the Parkland shooting, and it is unclear if any have since pulled out.

Additional Information.

The case number is 18-10684.  Additional information, including the docket of filed pleadings and instructions for filing claims, can be found on its claim agent’s website: PrimeClerk.com.

Mette K.

Filing Alert: Hobbico Files Chapter 11 to Complete a Sale Process

Illinois-based Hobbico, Inc. sought chapter 11 bankruptcy protection yesterday in Delaware. Its goal? To continue a sale process started late last year.

The Bankruptcy Sale

The company says it is “actively” discussing a sale with potential buyers. (Translation: It does not yet have a commitment from anyone.) Hobbico’s prepetition lenders are financing the sale effort. They are calling for the following sale schedule:

  • Sale procedures by March 9;
  • A bankruptcy auction by March 26; and
  • A sale closing by April 5.

Events Contributing to the Bankruptcy

The company blames its bankruptcy on various events, including:

  • High leverage due to various acquisitions;
  • Lagging product innovation;
  • An underdeveloped e-commerce platform;
  • An increasingly competitive drone market;
  • Vendor issues; and
  • Depressed sales.

These factors eventually triggered defaults with the company’s secured lenders. They also lead to a deadly spiral of constrained liquidity, inventory shortages, and falling sales.

Additional Information

JND Corporate Restructuring is the claims agent. The case is assigned to Judge Kevin Gross (case number 18-10055 (KG)). Information about the Committee formation meeting is available here.

Company Background

Hobbico designs, manufactures, and distributes drones, radio controlled vehicles, and other cool hobby products. I wanted to post pictures for you, but I can’t find any on their website. (Underscoring my earlier point about their underdeveloped internet presence.) But the website does identify many of their 250 brands. These include Axial, ARRMA, Revell, Estes, Great Planes Model Manufacturing, DuraTax, and Top Flite. Based in Illinois, the company has operations and facilities in California, Colorado, Illinois, and Nevada.axid9060

Tower Hobbies is the company’s retail arm. It is also their highest margin distribution channel. Revell, Estes-Cox, and United Model make up its mass market business. And Great Planes represents the company’s wholesale operations. Besides its own trademarks, the company licenses various trademarks.rise0207

Wait…!  Their drones and other toys are featured on the Tower Hobbies retail website. Too bad Christmas is over….

Mette K.