Photo by Salt Water New England

Friday, May 1, 2020

Bloomberg: "Little need for new suits..." - Brooks Brothers Seeks Buyer


A reader sent this article: Brooks Brothers Seeks Buyer With Wall Street Working From Home, which included:
Depending on how many stores a buyer wanted, a transaction could ultimately be part of a bankruptcy filing... The company has about $600 million in debt.



39 comments:

  1. In fact Garfinkels first bought it from the family and the first major mistake was then selling it to Allied. Allied sold it to Marks. Each has sought to "grow" the business. In 1971 it had 11 stores which was just right. As with so many companies the desire to grow destroyed it. It can't be fixed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. When a company has a 'desire to grow', it can be translated into a 'desire to make money' over absolutely everything else. I often wonder what is wrong with just doing simple things really well.

      Delete
    2. Marks & Spencer must bear a portion of the blame for the decline of BB. It was a puzzling acquisition that turned out to be a total disaster. It would be very brave, even foolish, for any company to buy the brand in the near future.

      Delete
    3. Sort of like Sears and Land’s End. The quality always deteriorates and the customer base contracts.

      Delete
  2. What a great time this might be for companies producing quality items...

    ReplyDelete
  3. J. Crew is planning to file for bankruptcy, according to news reports this morning. Yikes.

    ReplyDelete
  4. What a shame....I've bought many items from BB over the years. Most of the products they sell are now foreign produced and the quality has changed. Top dollar pricing for inferior merchandise. I'm not singling out just Brooks Bros either....Quality at reasonable pricing has become a lost art.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Its a shame. So many great memories involve Brooks Brothers in my life. I hope their is a way it can survive and keep it's classic style.

    ReplyDelete
  6. J.Crew is filing bankruptcy and hoping for a buyer.

    Jacqueline

    ReplyDelete
  7. My .02¢
    Del Vecchio and family have done a good job. They’ve streamlined much of the business (Shirts? Anyone seen shirts?) The business model will see drastic changes, including but not limited to: reduced store footprints, hours and employees.
    I don’t know how they’ll maintain their MTM and MTO business. Will it come down to self sizing at home and then order on line?
    Here is to hoping they can sustain in some form. They’re too iconic to disappear.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Maybe if BB hadn’t been charging exorbitant prices for years, I’d feel sorry for them.

    Brett Sampson

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hear! Hear!
      Now is the time for a good dose of schadenfreude.
      The chickens are coming home to roost.

      Delete
  9. It just shows how corporate greed had ruined another american company and that were are going to hell in a handbasket

    ReplyDelete
  10. I like Brooks Brothers suits. Their attempt to revive cotton button downs that need to be ironed was a solid "C" because the quality was so obviously lower than their oxford button downs used to be. When a classic store becomes a pale shadow of what it used to be, things like this tend to happen.

    ReplyDelete
  11. WaPo had an article yesterday about how this pandemic is likely to destroy many weakened companies in the retail sector.
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/04/29/which-iconic-brands-could-disappear-because-coronavirus/?arc404=true
    The US is over-retailed and Brooks Brothers needs to shrink.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Wuhan Covid XIXMay 1, 2020 at 6:48 PM

    Maybe their embrace of the Pee-wee Herman school of suit design wasn't such a great idea after all...

    ReplyDelete
  13. My family shopped at"B-SQUARED" for generations. Sure the quality has changed but you can still find some great things there if you're selective. I hope they can figure out how to survive. Time to downsize and return to their roots. Your Brooks-Freakin'-Brothers....no more shrunken suits!

    ReplyDelete
  14. They accrued 600 million dollars in debt in a bullish economy.? What possible event could cause them to survive through the next few months? They pushed me away years ago. I have bought a few things recently but c’est la vie.



    David J Cooper

    ReplyDelete
  15. $600 Million in debt!
    And the way to get out of debt was to decrease quality and increase prices?

    ReplyDelete
  16. Whoever is the holder of the trademark, Brooks Bros, the brand has been degraded beyond salvation. It's only a misplaced nostalgia to associate the current iteration with what it use to mean. Not unlike Abercrombie and Fitch, there is no link between the original and the current enterprises. I grimace whenever I see a poster on some website refer to BB in the same sentence as J Press or O'Connells.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Comparing the change at A&F over the years to the changes at BB is silly. BB was never in the safari business.

      Delete
    2. That's not my point at all. Oh, nevermind.

      Delete
  17. This is an article about J.Crew, but I think the last paragraph says what so many comments here point out about companies that have lost their way over the years:

    https://www.vogue.com/article/jcrew-love-letter-bankruptcy-coronavirus-pandemic

    Jacqueline

    ReplyDelete
  18. As I've said for years, CDV DESTROYED BB and now he has to pay the piper. I hope he goes bankrupt at the personal level as well because it couldn't happen to a bigger, more arrogant AH.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Losing sight of your core client base strikes again. You knew it was over for BB when they started opening outlet stores. The magic was gone.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Let us hope that J. Press, the Andover Shop, O'Connells, Paul Stuart, Enson's, and the hundreds of suburban menswear shops can not only hang on, but perhaps fill a void.

    The dominance of Brooks in some markets, resulted in seeing the same suits and sport coats within the same train cars!

    The problem of course for the independents is the interconnectedness of the supply chains between themselves and Brooks.

    Perhaps it is time for us all to pick up a few new items for Spring from our favorite independents!

    ReplyDelete
  21. Whenever you chase short-term profits and market share to boost stock prices, at the expense of long-term growth and a solid reputation for quality products, you're bound to fail. It's possible to have high-quality products, at a reasonable price that people are willing to pay. But the corporate culture of the business has to focus on it, and incentivize it. Sadly, in all too many American businesses today, the focus is on "branding" and short-term profits. But that only gets you so far. Once your "brand" is associated with over-priced, crappy products, you're done.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Very few companies survive from one generation of technology to the next generation. Studebaker wagons became Studebaker cars. Other wagon companies died along with their associated buggy whip companies. Similarly, few companies dependent upon cultural norms survive the changing of those norms that they supported. Some try to hang on, like BB's ridiculous too-small suits, but most fail. When half your store is suits, and no one wears suits to work anymore, you're in trouble. BB has been a zombie company for years. Dead, but hasn't fallen over yet.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think the most difficult thing to survive is a change of ownership, even to include a second generation of family ownership. When the founder of a company passes on, the company sometimes has to find itself all over again. But growth is vital.

      Delete
  23. I've been complaining for years about all of these staple brands, and what they're doing: trying to be too clever, too trendy. Trying to make too much money. And here we are. --Holly in PA

    ReplyDelete
  24. I wish there were enough purists who could pool the resources to buy it and bring it back to where it once was. Timeless, heirloom quality clothing worthy of passing down.

    ReplyDelete
  25. The Andover Shop changed hands last year to a local and successful (in a variety of businesses) family. They’ve sold off years of accumulated, some might say outdated, inventory. They are working with a tried and true khaki manufacturer. The Alden line is expanding. Their cords are still top shelf. St. John’s Bay Rum (the best!) is always available.

    They invested in up to date technology and improved their on-line presence. They were doing the right things to maintain their brand and relevance. Now, their bread and butter base has vanished. You can’t have your Blazer tailored virtually and binary code is a poor substitute for quality customer service.

    You said it best, ...d..., it is the time to pick up a few items from our favorite independents.

    Disclaimer: I am in no way affiliated with The Andover Shop. I want them to survive.

    ReplyDelete
  26. https://www.theguardian.com/fashion/2020/may/04/fashion-chain-j-crew-files-for-bankruptcy-protection-in-us-coronavirus

    ReplyDelete
  27. Good topic. I think the future is high quality casual/traditional clothing. I buy used items on the internet in part because the quality is so much better prior to roughly 2000. Casual clothing doesn't have to fit as precisely, so you can largely buy it on the internet.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Pre-2000 stuff is definitely better quality. Even made in China, Timberland denim shirts are pretty much bulletproof if they're pre-2000!

      Delete
  28. AS A LONG TIME BROOKS BROTHERS CUSTOMER, I FEEL THEY ABANDONED THEIR CORE CUSTOMER BASE. I UNDERSTAND THEY NEED TO ENCOURAGE YOUNGER PEOPLE TO THEIR BRAND, BUT QUALITY SLIPPED, DRESS PANTS NO LONGER FIT THE WAY THEY USE TOO, SPORTCOATS WERE BEING MADE IN CHINA, THERE WAS A SALE EVERY WEEK, SO WHY BUY AT REGULAR PRICE, AND THEY STOPPED SENDING OUT CATALOGS. NOTHING IS FOREVER, BUT I NEVER THOUGHT IN MY LIFE TIME BB WOULD FALL AS IT HAS. WHAT A SHAME

    ReplyDelete
  29. Here's my suggestion- a proper buyer. Ralph Lauren for example. He should buy it personally, not for his eponymous company. I would shrink the product line 60%. I would keep Southwick and the North Carolina shirt factory. I would research the company from top to bottom. And I would watch my price points. He would have no trouble finding financial partners and outside trustworthy advisors. I think he is a master of advertising, and he really understands manufacturing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ralph Lauren is 80, you know.

      Delete
    2. I suspect that Ralph Lauren at 80 working at 50% of his capacity would be more than up to the job.....

      Delete