It looks like nobody will ever know if the tie-up between an online apparel site and a storied department store would have worked.
Bankrupt Le Tote and Lord & Taylor on Tuesday said all 38 department store locations have begun going-out-of-business sales, adding a final few to the 24 already in progress.
The company said it is "still entertaining various opportunities" in hopes of selling itself as a going concern, according to an emailed press release.
But in a statement, Chief Restructuring Officer Ed Kremer said the liquidations are "prudent" in order to maximize the value of the stores' inventory.
When Le Tote took over Lord & Taylor last year, several observers scoffed, while others noted it was the first time in a long time that the department store's parent had any interest in it beyond its real estate. While former owner Hudson's Bay Co. found willing buyers for Lord & Taylor's buildings, including its famous Italianate flagship in New York, for example, its merchandising and marketing were left to drift — aside from a placement on Walmart.com three years ago.
Le Tote's ability to salvage Lord & Taylor, founded in 1826 and one of the strongest retailers in the U.S. for decades, was never a sure thing. But the pandemic managed to scuttle its prospects entirely. The company filed under Chapter 11 earlier this month.
"I am extraordinarily proud of the continued efforts of our store and corporate team members as they have worked tirelessly over the past several months, under unprecedented conditions, to preserve this historic brand," Kremer said. "We have a long road ahead of us and I am grateful and humbled by the dedication and resiliency of our team."
As of last week, Amazon now owns the Lord & Taylor flagship building in Manhattan, and appears to be working on making a name for itself in fashion. If so, becoming what Lord & Taylor once was — a destination for accessible, stylish American designs — may be a worthy goal.