2016/12/28

Is The Limited's Demise Imminent?

It looks like the Limited’s days are limited.
Store associates and an online customer service representative from the apparel chain, which is reportedly expected to file for bankruptcy in the coming weeks and facing a possible liquidation, offered mixed messages on the future of the 240-store chain — or lack thereof.

One store associate from a Limited in California, which is closing for good on December 28, said the retailer is going out of business, and therefore not accepting any returns or exchanges of items purchased after December 15.
Courtesy: The New York Times
Courtesy: The New York Times
Meanwhile, a New Jersey store associate said that particular location might be closing or relocating and would not honor returns or exchanges on purchases made after December 5, a highly unusual policy during the post-holiday selling season. “Everything is final sale,” the New Jersey sales associate said by phone, when asked if I could exchange a Limited cardigan I received as a Christmas gift.

An online customer service representative said all sales for the Limited are final, and merchandise cannot be returned or exchanged. When asked if the policy is related to an imminent bankruptcy or liquidation, the rep said they believed it’s due to a “restructuring” of the Limited’s stores and web site. As of Dec. 27, the Limited.com is holding what looks like a fire sale, offering 50% off "every single item," with the message, "All sales are final."
Sun Capital Partners, which purchased the retailer in 2007 from L Brands, declined comment on whether the retailer is planning to file for bankruptcy or liquidate stores, said a spokesperson from the private equity firm.
This month, the Columbia Dispatch reported that due to weak sales and a heavy debt load, the Limited would sell or close the chain, just as Bloomberg reported on Dec. 20 that the retailer is expected to file for bankruptcy or liquidate its fleet.

The reports coincide with a shakeup of the Limited's senior ranks. This month, Interim CEO John Buell left the chain for another retailer after just two months in the spot. He was filling in for former CEO Diane Ellis, who moved on in October to become CEO of Chico's, the women's apparel chain.

The Limited’s clothing aesthetic could be described as work wear with a provocative edge for young women. But amid mall traffic declines and as the apparel sector has been in a prolonged funk, save for bright spots such as off-price merchants like T.J. Maxx and fast-fashion retailers, moderately priced clothing chains like the Limited have struggled to hold on to their competitive niche.

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