CORONAVIRUS

Brooks Brothers files for bankruptcy

Clothing chain aims to close dozens of stores

A pedestrian walks past a boarded-up Brooks Brothers store in New York in June. (Bloomberg)
A pedestrian walks past a boarded-up Brooks Brothers store in New York in June. (Bloomberg)

The coronavirus recession has done in one of the nation’s oldest and best known retailers — Brooks Brothers.

The 202-year brand that claims to have dressed all but four U.S. presidents and legions of business executives in its Oxfords, classic suits and polos for casual Friday, filed for bankruptcy on Wednesday in Delaware as it continues its search for a buyer, according to a company spokesperson.

The company is set to close 51 of its 250 North American stores and will halt production at its factories in Massachusetts, North Carolina and New York in mid-August, which produce less than 7 percent of its finished goods.

Remaining stores will reopen in compliance with local public health orders tied to pandemic-related closures.

The chain has two outlet stores in Iowa — in Williamsburg and Altoona.

Brooks Brothers, owned by its chief executive Claudio Del Vecchio, has long sought a buyer and has not struggled to field bids.

But the pandemic, along with changing workplace fashion trends, disrupted the sale process.

The company secured $75 million in debtor-in-possession financing to continue its operations during the sale process.

It’s the latest large American apparel retailer to struggle under the weight of the pandemic, following J.C. Penney, J. Crew and Neiman Marcus into bankruptcy court.

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Ascena Retail, which operates Ann Taylor and Lane Bryant, could be next. Bloomberg reports a filing could come as soon as this week.

Brooks Brothers was founded in 1818.

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