A “Store Closing” banner on a Bed Bath & Beyond store in Farmingdale, New York, on Friday, Jan. 6, 2023.
Johnny Milano | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Bed Bath & Beyond on Sunday filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection after it failed in several last-ditch efforts to raise enough money to keep the company alive.
The beleaguered home goods retailer has been warning of a potential bankruptcy since early January, when it issued a “going concern” notice that it may not have the cash to cover expenses after a dismal holiday season. Shares of the company closed at 29 cents Friday, giving it a market value of $136.9 million. The stock is down about 88% this year. Last April, it was trading around $20 a share.
The company’s 360 namesake stores and 120 Buybuy Baby locations will remain open for the time being as it begins to close the business and liquidate assets. But it has filed motions in New Jersey bankruptcy court asking permission to auction the two brands, the company said in a release. It has already committed to closing all of its Harmon FaceValue stores.
As of late November, Bed Bath had about $4.4 billion in assets and $5.2 billion in debts, court filings show. Alongside a long list of creditors, including vendors like Pinterest, Keurig and Blue Yonder, it owes the most to BNY Mellon at $1.18 billion, the documents show.
“Millions of customers have trusted us through the most important milestones in their lives – from going to college to getting married, settling into a new home to having a baby. Our teams have worked with incredible purpose to support and strengthen our beloved banners, Bed Bath & Beyond and buybuy BABY,” CEO Sue Gove said in a statement.
Sixth Street has agreed to lend Bed Bath $240 million in debtor-in-possession financing so the company can have the cash flow necessary to support operations through the bankruptcy process. It said it plans to continue to pay employees wages and benefits, maintain customer programs and honor obligations to vendors.
The downward spiral
Bed Bath has been hanging on by a thread since January but has refused to go down without a fight. It secured what was then-considered a Hail Mary stock offering in early February that was expected to infuse more than $1 billion in equity into Bed Bath, but the plan faltered and brought in only $360 million, the company said.
At the end of March, Bed Bath announced another stock offering it hoped would bring in $300 million, but that news sent the share price tumbling and it struggled to raise the funds it hoped the offering would provide. As of April 10, the company had sold approximately 100.1 million shares and raised only $48.5 million.
In filings, the company warned if it didn’t raise the anticipated proceeds from the offering, it would likely have to file for bankruptcy protection.
Days after the second stock offering was announced, Bed Bath said it had partnered with liquidator Hilco Global to boost its inventory levels. Under the agreement, Hilco subsidiary ReStore Capital agreed to buy up to $120 million in merchandise from the company’s key suppliers after relationships with Bed Bath’s vendors soured because of its liquidity issues.
However, the plans ultimately proved futile.
The retailer has struggled to maintain relationships with its vendors and has been grappling with low inventory levels, lagging sales and a rapidly dwindling cash pile.
Going into the holiday season, Bed Bath had difficulty keeping its shelves stocked and because of its liquidity issues, some vendors began asking for prepayments, the company said in securities filings.
Gove had been leading the company through an attempted turnaround she hoped could save the business, but those efforts coincided with high inflation that affected consumer spending while rising interest rates slowed the housing market.
Plus, consumers who had spent 2020 and 2021 staying at home and updating their living spaces amid the pandemic were now spending on travel, eating out and other out-of-home experiences.
In mid-January, the company was looking to find a buyer willing to keep it afloat with an infusion of cash. Soon, though, Bed Bath revealed in a securities filing that it didn’t have enough cash to pay its debts and had defaulted on its credit line with JPMorgan.
The company was able to make its interest payments using funding gained from the first stock offering, but at the time it warned it would “likely” have to file for bankruptcy and see its assets liquidated if the deal didn’t go as planned.
The company had loans with JPMorgan and Sixth Street that were reduced in late March after its second stock offering was announced. At the time, its total revolving commitment decreased from $565 million to $300 million and its revolving credit facility was reduced from $225 million to $175 million. Under the reduced credit agreements, Bed Bath was on the hook for monthly interest payments.
The company said it was attempting to lower costs by reducing capital expenditures, closing stores and negotiating lease deals but warned in filings the efforts “may not be successful.”
At a popular Bed Bath outpost in New York City, a since laid-off staffer recently told CNBC that workers were standing around not knowing what to do after the company suddenly cut off in-store pickup and deliveries at the location. The worker was told liquidators would be coming the following day and soon learned employees wouldn’t receive severance after more than two decades with the company.
“It was just so almost,” the worker said.