By ANNE D’INNOCENZIO, AP Retail Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — Bed Bath & Beyond said Thursday that it’s in default on its loans and doesn’t have sufficient funds to repay what it owes.
The home goods chain said in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing that the default would force it to consider alternatives including restructuring its debt in bankruptcy court.
Shares in the company based in Union, New Jersey, fell 22% Thursday in reaction to the news.
Bed Bath & Beyond warned on Jan. 5 that it was considering options including filing for bankruptcy, saying that there was “substantial doubt” that it could stay in business. A week later, it reported a 33% drop in sales and a widening loss for its fiscal third quarter that ended Nov. 26, compared with the year-ago period. Sales at stores opened at least a year — a key indicator of a company’s health — dropped 32%.
It also listed store closings in January. The stores to be closed include four in Pennsylvania, but none in the Harrisburg area. The Wall Street Journal reports the company is also planning to shut down its Harmon drug store chain.
Its recently appointed president and CEO, Sue Gove, blamed the poor holiday performance on inventory constraints and reduced credit limits that resulted in shortages of merchandise on store shelves.
Typically, struggling retailers file for bankruptcy protection after the holiday shopping season because they have a cash cushion coming from the two-month sales period.
Still, turning around Bed Bath & Beyond is expected to be difficult amid increasing competition from discounters. Its struggles come as the economy is weakening, and shoppers are tightening their purse strings.
It has been trying to turn around its business and slash costs after previous management’s new strategies worsened a sales slump. The company announced in August it would close about 150 of its namesakes stores and slash its workforce by 20%. It also lined up more than $500 million in new financing.