Coldwater Creek (NASDAQ: CWTR) filed a Chapter 11 petition Friday to liquidate inventory. The company will close all its roughly 350 U.S. stores.
Listing assets of $278.5 million and debt totaling $361.3 million, the Sandpoint, Idaho-based company tried without success to find a buyer or investor.
Coldwater intends to hold an auction on May 1 to select the liquidator. The first bid will be submitted by a joint venture between Hilco Merchant Resources LLC and Gordon Brothers Retail Partners LLC. Acting as agents, they guarantee Coldwater will recover at least 97 percent of the cost of the merchandise, estimated to have a total cost of $90 million to $100 million.
Going-out-business sales are to begin in early May.
"The company's declining liquidity position and the challenging retail environment, together with the fact that we have exhausted all other possibilities, requires that we take this action," Jill Dean, CEO of Coldwater Creek, said in a statement.
Coldwater Creek officials spent six months exploring financial alternatives to satisfy its creditors, but ultimately were unable to find a potential buyer for the company or a source of capital to continue operations, according to the release.
At their peak in 2006, Coldwater's sales were $1.1 billion. For the nine months ended Nov. 2, sales of $460 million translated into a $61.3 million operating loss and a $59.6 million net loss. For the fiscal year ended Feb. 1, 2013, sales of $742.5 million brought a $68.7 million operating loss and an $81.2 million net loss.
Coldwater joins women's clothing chains Dots, Loehmann's and Ashley Stewart in bankruptcy this year. Dots, with 400 stores, shut down after filing in January. Ashley Stewart, with 168 stores in 24 states, sought Chapter 11 protection on March 10.
Other major chains that have filed bankruptcy in recent months include Brookstone, Quiznos, and Sbarro, all citing sluggish consumer spending and a drop in mall traffic as contributors to their demise.
-See this Coldwater Creek press release
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