Gymboree Files For Bankruptcy, To Close Hundreds Of Stores

Image courtesy of Phillip Pessar

Retail-watchers have predicted the impending bankruptcy of children’s clothing store Gymboree, and the filing has finally arrived. The chain, which has 1,281 stores between its Gymboree, Gymboree Outlet, Janie and Jack, and Crazy 8 chains, said in a bankruptcy court filing that it plans to close as many as 450 of its stores, but stay in business while cutting its substantial debt.

The latest warning sign was when the chain missed a major debt payment due at the beginning of June. However, the company is profitable: It just has $1.4 billion in debt from a leveraged buyout by Bain Capital a few years ago.

A Chapter 11 filing [PDF] will help the company get out from under that debt: It hopes to cut the total by $1 billion. Some of that could include swapping debt for more equity in the company, but Chapter 11 would also help Gymboree to get out of leases for locations that it no longer wants to keep open, and shut down stores that aren’t working out.

“We expect to move through this process quickly and emerge as a stronger organization that is better positioned in today’s evolving retail landscape, with the right size store footprint and greater financial flexibility to invest in Gymboree’s long-term growth,” the company’s new CEO said in a statement.

Gymboree began in 1976 as a space for playtime and music classes, and only expanded into retail 10 years later. Now it’s much better known for its retail business than the play spaces that the company is named after, but the name remains.