Business

Pier 1 files for bankruptcy

Retailer seeks time to sell troubled chain

Pier 1 Imports was founded in 1962, and as with other long-established retailers, has been hurt by the growth of online
Pier 1 Imports was founded in 1962, and as with other long-established retailers, has been hurt by the growth of online rivals. (Dreamstime/TNS)

Pier 1 Imports filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection to facilitate a company sale after the retailer of eclectic home furnishings found itself squeezed by online rivals and crushed under too much debt.

The Fort Worth, Texas-based retailer is in talks with multiple potential buyers, according to a statement Monday.

Pier 1 also reiterated a plan to shut as many as 450 stores.

“Today’s actions are intended to provide Pier 1 with additional time and financial flexibility as we now work to unlock additional value for our stakeholders through a sale,” CEO Robert Riesbeck said in the statement.

The company will remain open during the bankruptcy process.

Pier 1 listed assets and liabilities of more than $500 million in its filing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Richmond, Va.

The company said it secured about $256 million of debtor-in-possession financing from Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Pathlight Capital.

Pier 1 was founded in 1962, and as with other long-established retailers, it’s been hurt by the growth of new online rivals.

Pier 1’s shoppers have been defecting to e-commerce players such as Wayfair, as well as conventional giants like Walmart that have expanded in the category.

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Repeated efforts to salvage Pier 1 fell short. An “action plan” put in place in April 2019 by interim CEO Cheryl Bachelder failed to stabilize sales, and the company replaced her in November with Robert Riesbeck, a turnaround manager.

He announced plans in January to dismiss about 40 percent of the headquarters staff and shut about 450 stores — almost half the chain.

At the same time, the company was telling creditors about a plan for a potential bankruptcy, and it warned in a regulatory filing that its survival was in doubt.

Charles Tandy, the entrepreneur behind Radio Shack, started Pier 1 in California as a single store, according to his book. The outlet in San Mateo sold beanbag chairs, love beads and incense, according to a company history.

The chain went public in 1970 and eventually expanded to more than 1,000 stores, with locations in Canada, Mexico, Europe and Australia. It didn’t introduce an e-commerce website until July 2012.

As of March 2019, it employed about 18,000 people in the United States and Canada, about 4,000 of them full-time.

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