Yikes. They only just announced a Chapter 11 filing last week, but Gottschalks is on the fast track to oblivion. Inside Bay Area notes that Gottschalks needs a buyer now “or else:”
Gottschalks Inc. intends to find a buyer by mid-March or it might proceed with a complete liquidation of its assets, according to court papers filed by the bankrupt department store operator.
The retailer, whose operations include department stores in Antioch, Stockton, Tracy, Santa Rosa and Capitola, said it hopes to complete an auction by March 17 that would lead to a sale of the company. Fresno-based Gottschalks operates primarily in malls located in suburban and rural markets in California, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Idaho and Alaska.
Absent a buyer, Gottschalks would move toward a liquidation during the spring, company filings with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware shows.
Like I said the other day, poor Gottschalks has seemed like a weaker player for some time. Their stores are like relics from another era, straddling a funny line between Kohl’s and Macy’s and with locations in rural malls and second-tier markets. Their loss would be a very major one for many malls in smaller western markets.
At the same time, Filene’s Basement is closing 11 stores with leases they were apparently unable to negotiate. This may be a bad sign for the overall health of the once-storied chain. Filene’s Basement has been close to the brink before in the late ’90s after a zealous overexpansion and a dilution of their brand equity, after opening scores of suburban stores that were too similar to TJMaxx, Marshalls, and Ross to differentiate. The smaller chain retrenched of late, however, and began to trend upscale by offering high-end designer goods at significantly marked down prices; a nod to its beginnings as the clearance basement under the original flagship Filene’s store in Boston. That store, which is notable for hosting its annual “running of the brides” bridal clearance event, has been closed for several years while the site is being redeveloped. Many in Boston wonder if it will ever re-open, and this latest news seems to cast even more doubt on the prospect.
Coming soon: a post about a mall that actually has a Gottschalks in it! Neat!