NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Now may be a good time to send a gift basket along with your condolences to the owners of Harry & David.
The renowned gourmet food supplier, whose name is synonymous with upscale gift baskets of food and fruits, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Monday to restructure its debt, casting doubt on the future of this 75-year old chain.
Like many upscale companies, Harry & David’s sales were hurt by the recession as many consumers – even wealthy households – cut back on their spending. But Harry & David’s fiscal problems date back to even before the recession.
The company and its debt were acquired by a private equity group in 2004, which quickly began consolidating operations and laying off employees. According to the bankruptcy filing, the company’s current debt and assets may be as much as $500 million.
As part of the bankruptcy filing, Harry & David announced that it secured a first-lien debtor-in-possession credit agreement for $100 million from lenders, plus a second-lien for $55 million and is seeking approval for both from shareholders.
“We believe that entering into this agreement provides the best opportunity for Harry & David to restructure its balance sheet on an expedited basis, strengthen its operations and create long-term value, while continuing to provide customers with the highest quality products and service,” said Kay Hong, chief restructuring officer and interim chief executive officer. “Harry & David is an iconic brand, and we believe this is an important first step to position the business for long-term profitable growth.”
According to a company press release, customers will still be able to purchase products online and at Harry & David’s 70 stores nationwide during this restructuring period. Moreover, the company will continue to honor gift cards, loyalty programs and perhaps most importantly of all, it will continue to send out boxes of fruit to members of its fruit of the month club. So to all Harry & David loyalists, you can breathe a sigh of relief that you’ll still be able to get your fruit fix for the foreseeable future.
Harry & David isn’t the only well known company to come upon tough times in the aftermath of the recession. Several big brands have declared bankruptcy in the last year, including companies like Blockbuster, Borders and A&P.
For more companies that have sparked bankruptcy rumors in recent years, check out MainStreet’s roundup of businesses that could go bankrupt in the future.
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