Christopher & Banks Files Bankruptcy

Christopher & Banks Files Bankruptcy

Retailer to close “significant portion, if not all” of 449 stores nationwide.

Plymouth-based retailer Christopher & Banks Corp. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Wednesday as the company’s sales have been pummeled by the Covid-19 pandemic.

It’s possible that Christopher & Banks, which sells women’s apparel, could ultimately close all of its 449 stores across 44 states.

According to a statement from the company:

  • “The company expects to close a significant portion, if not all, of its brick-and-mortar stores and, in connection therewith, the company has launched a store closing and liquidation process. The company, however, will continue to operate its business in the ordinary course in the near term.”
  • “The company is in active discussion with potential buyers for the sale of its eCommerce platform and related assets and expects to file the appropriate motion shortly.”

Christopher & Banks signaled a month ago that it had hired outside advisers and was reviewing “strategic alternatives” which included a possible bankruptcy filing or the sale of the company.

While larger retailers like Target and Best Buy have done well throughout the pandemic, many niche retailers have faced big challenges. Trade publication Retail Dive reports that, as of November, at least 29 retailers had declared bankruptcy in 2020.

“Since the start of the Covid pandemic, we have taken aggressive steps to protect our business while continuing to serve our customers in a healthy and safe environment,” said Keri Jones, president and CEO of Christopher & Banks, in a statement. “Despite the tremendous advancements we have made in executing our strategic plan, due to the financial distress resulting from the pandemic and its ongoing impact, we elected to initiate this process and pursue a potential sale of the business in whole or in part.”

Christopher & Banks reported that its third quarter sales had dropped 22.6 percent. The company saw a net loss of $10.8 million for the third quarter.

Last month Jones said that “We believe that Covid has had an outsized impact on our customer demographic.”

The company’s struggles predate the pandemic. Christopher & Banks has not posted an annual net profit since fiscal 2014.

Its sales have been fading for several years. In fiscal year 2013, for example, the company had sales of $435.8 million and posted a net profit of $8.7 million. At that time the company operated 551 stores.

For its latest fiscal year that ended on February 1, 2020, the company posted sales of $348.85 million with a net loss of $16.7 million.

The company traces its history back to 1956 when Gil Braun founded Braun’s Fashions in Minneapolis. Christopher & Banks was incorporated in 1986 to acquire Braun’s Fashions. The company went public in 1992.