For Bon-Ton, founded in 19th century, an uncertain future

NEW YORK (AP) – The way forward for Bon-Ton Shops appears tenuous after the division retailer chain that survived financial downturns together with the Nice Melancholy filed for chapter safety and stated it might search a purchaser for all or items of itself.

Even because it closes shops, plans to jazz up its retailer label merchandise and scale back its debt load, the chain should make itself stand out in a aggressive market the place buyers are shopping for extra on-line general and fewer of the clothes that department shops rely upon.

The submitting late Sunday makes Bon-Ton the most important retailer to file for chapter up to now this yr. It joins a number of dozen others that filed for Chapter eleven final yr, together with Toys R Us, Payless ShoeSource and Gymboree Corp. Extra are anticipated to comply with as many retailers face comparable challenges, together with massive debt masses.

About two dozen distressed retailers, together with 9 West Holdings Inc. and Claire’s Shops Inc., are on the watch record of Moody’s Buyers Service. That surpasses the 19 from final yr on the record of shops with poor credit score scores or liquidity, weak credit score and what the company calls challenged aggressive positions.

“Within the present surroundings of pricing transparency, cutthroat pricing and extra-demanding shoppers, retailers should have robust stability sheets in the event that they’re to stay aggressive,” Moody’s Christina Boni notes.

However the Bon-Ton model – and all of its banners that embrace Elder-Beerman and Carson’s – are removed from wholesome, says analyst Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData Retail.

“Even with respiration area, the way forward for Bon-Ton is unsure. In our view, there are numerous shops and places, that are in terminal decline and the place closure is the one smart choice,” Saunders wrote. “They’re undifferentiated, unclear and have develop into more and more irrelevant to shoppers. Even when the debt load was minimize and unprofitable divisions culled, Bon-Ton would nonetheless be operating up a down escalator to outlive.”

Although Bon-Ton has survived a rating of extreme financial downturns, it’s in uncharted territory as we speak. Amazon has revolutionized the best way individuals store, however the conduct of People had already been altering radically when it comes to what they purchase and the place they purchase it.

Many shops, notably department shops, are preventing for patrons. Nevertheless, a few of Bon-Ton’s friends like Macy’s and J.C. Penney and loads of different retailers noticed gross sales rebound this previous vacation buying season, helped by a…

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