Blame it on the Retail Apocalypse. Blame it on Millennials who don’t buy as much stuff. Blame it on dying malls. Blame it on Amazon and online shopping in general. Or even blame it on Ugg. Whatever the reason(s), for a second time, The Walking Company Holdings Inc. filed Chapter 11 in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware this week. The 208-store chain reported that negotiations with its major landlords are already underway which will allow the company “to rationalize its lease portfolio of mall-based stores, bringing it in line with current market rents.”
“This recap is the final step in transforming The Walking Company into a more vertically integrated, omnichannel retailer that can not only survive but thrive in the current retail environment,” states CEO Andrew Feshbach. “The Walking Company has been very successful in developing its ABEO brand, which we have integrated with the sale of other leading comfort footwear brands from around the world. We also have made great progress in integrating our mall-based chain with our other channels of distribution, including Internet, wholesale sales to independent comfort shoe retailers, and international expansion.”
Now about Ugg. The retailer cited the loss of a contract from its largest vendor, Deckers Brands, makers of Ugg, as among the reasons for its struggles over the past year. The chain stopped selling the brand at the end of 2016. “As a result of the difficult environment for store-based retailing in 2017, Walking Co. could not replace the lost Ugg sales fast enough,” Feshbach stated in a court document.
Going forward, The Walking Company reports having the support of its major shareholders. According to the declaration, the company has secured $10 million in equity commitments and $50 million in financing that will allow it to exit Chapter 11 as “a substantially stronger company.”