As we initially anticipated less than three months ago, Reuters reports that Nine West Holdings - which has been in talks with its creditors over a possible deal to restructure its debt for months now - intends to file for bankruptcy, possibly as soon as Friday.
The 30-day countdown to Nine West's bankruptcy filing started in March after the company missed a debt payment, entering its grace period.
To help make its creditors whole, the failed retailer plans to sell the intellectual property of its flagship footwear brand to Authentic Brands Group, the company that, among other acquisitions, bought the flagging Juicy Couture brand back in 2013. However, Reuters cautioned that the deal with Authentic Brands hasn't been finalized just yet, which is said to be in talks with a partner to orchestrate the deal.
The plan, according to Reuters, is that the IP sales will help Nine West pay down its debt, increasing the likelihood that it eventually emerges from bankruptcy. Luckily for the company's creditors, it still has a few profitable business lines, including a denim line that's sold in mass-market retailers like Walmart, and which can actually be monetized if need be.
The fate of Nine West is only the latest in a seemingly endless stream of retail bankruptcies that have left malls around the country pockmarked with vacancies. Recently, retail vacancies jumped 8.4% in Q1 2018 - a six year high.
Retail bankruptcies accelerated in 2017 with at least 30 retailers filing and more than 8,500 retail outlets closing. But according to the latest Moody's research report on the sector, the rating agency now forecasts at least six retail and apparel issuers defaulting over the next 12 months, with most of these occurring in the first half of the year.
With the long-feared "retail apocalypse" in full swing, even the CEO of Urban Outfitters, admitted a year ago that the "retail bubble has now burst."
If there is a silver lining for the retail industry, it's that the industry's default rate is expected to peak at just over 12% this March; still, Moody's cautioned that the still-high default forecast for the remainder of 2018 points to more pain before this lower ratings rung stabilizes. But Moody's assessment could be too optimistic, as the list of retail corporate debt - yes, Nine West is among it - coming due would suggest.
The proceeds from the sale will pay down some of Nine West’s approximately $1.5 billion in debt, increasing the chances that the company will emerge from a planned bankruptcy, the sources said.