David's Bridal All Dressed for Chapter 11
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Looking to cut more than $430 million in debt, David's Bridal Inc. has commenced a Chapter 11 case it hopes to wrap up within two months.

The private equity-backed wedding gown retailer and three affiliates filed petitions on Monday, Nov. 19, in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware in Wilmington. David's Bridal toted to court a Chapter 11 plan and a motion for use of $185 million in bankruptcy financing, including $60 million in new funds.

Judge Laurie Selber Silverstein is set on Tuesday afternoon to consider initial motions in the case. David's Bridal hopes to collect approval of its plan on Jan. 7 and exit Chapter 11 on Jan. 14.

In the interim, its 311 stores across the U.S., Canada and the U.K. will remain open and orders will arrive on time, the company said in a statement Monday.

"We are implementing our consensual restructuring plan from a position of strength, and with the support of our lenders, noteholders and equity holders, the plan will allow us to reduce our debt significantly while continuing to run our business as usual," CEO Scott Key said in a statement Monday. "We will be able to move through the court process very quickly, and in the end, we will be able to allocate even more of our resources towards making strategic investments in digital technologies and talent that will drive long-term growth and operational excellence at David's Bridal."

The restructuring proposal for the Conshohocken, Pa.-based retailer would wipe out the 75% equity stake of PE firm Clayton, Dubilier & Rice LLC and 25% stake of Leonard Green & Partners LP and hand new equity to term loan lenders and unsecured noteholders.

Court papers show holders of about 97% of the unsecured note claims and 85% of term loan claims have agreed to vote in favor of the plan.

Trade creditors would be unaffected by the restructuring.

David's Bridal would leave Chapter 11 with a smaller term loan plus two new credit facilities.

With a grace period on its notes set to expire, David's Bridal had signaled on Thursday it would be filing for Chapter 11. The retailer skipped an Oct. 15 interest payment on the unsecured notes.

Tracing its roots to 1950, David's Bridal has stores in the U.S., Canada and U.K. plus two franchised locations in Mexico.

In a declaration, CFO Joan Hilson said the vast majority of the chain's stores return positive Ebitda. Nevertheless, she said, David's Bridal has too much debt, and its pending maturities in late 2019 compelled the retailer to move to address its capital structure "in a manner that does not disrupt ... business, vendor and landlord relationships, employees and, mostly importantly, the experience of our customers."

David's Bridal is the latest retailer to enter Chapter 11, following bicycle shop operator Advanced Sports Enterprises Inc. on Friday, National Wholesale Liquidators owner NSC Wholesale Holdings LLC (Oct. 24), Sears Holdings Corp. (Oct. 15), Mattress Firm Inc. (Oct. 5) and wholesaler American Tire Distributors Inc. (Oct. 4).

David's Bridal went public in 1999, and May Department Stores Co. paid $346 million for the retailer the following August. Leonard Green in November 2006 agreed to pay $750 million for David's Bridal as then-owner Federated Department Stores Inc. wrapped up a lengthy strategic divestiture process.

CD&R took a 75% stake in an October 2012 buyout that valued the retailer at $1.05 billion, with Leonard Green retaining most of the remaining equity.

David's Bridal in its petition listed $100 million to $500 million in assets and $500 million to $1 billion in liabilities.

The retailer has 6,800 employees.

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