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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Bankruptcy scare hit to RMG exporters from Bangladesh

US retailer Express, which outsources its garments to the tune of $100 million from 12-14 top Bangladeshi RMG manufacturers has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Chapter 11 bankruptcy is a nightmare for garment exporters to the US. During Covid19 many US companies filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The Bangladeshi Prime Minister had used her influence for release of struck up payments of over $1 billion.  

Chapter 11 bankruptcy is a form of bankruptcy reorganization available to businesses, including corporations and partnerships, as well as individuals with significant debts. Creditors may receive a portion of the amount owed to them under the terms of the plan, which can vary depending on the specifics of the case. More often, they receive less than the full amount owed.

The 44 years old American mall retailer Express Inc, intends to close more than 100 stores, according to Reuters. Eleven affiliated firms of the brand also filed their respective Chapter 11 petitions.

The retailer portfolio includes  brands like Express, Bonobos and UpWest Express, and has listed assets and liabilities in the range of $1 billion to $10 billion, according to a filing with the bankruptcy court in Delaware.

As part of the bankruptcy process, the company will close approximately 95 Express retail stores and all of its UpWest stores, starting Tuesday, it said, without specifying the locations.

The company operates about 530 Express retail and Express Factory Outlet stores in the United States and Puerto Rico and around 12 UpWest retail stores, according to its website.

Express has been battling with soft consumer demand due to slowing spending patterns and increased price sensitivity in discretionary categories. Credit monitoring firm Creditsafe said at the time that late payments have been a consistent problem at Express, an indication of ongoing liquidity problems.

According to industry insiders, about 12-14 top Bangladeshi RMG manufacturers have business with this iconic brand. Their annual import value is about $100 million.

Some of Bangladesh’s RMG brands have some outstanding payments from this brand. Sparrow Group, one of the manufacturers that exports RMG goods to Express, said the brand informed us they are going to file chapter 11 for restructuring their business.

Sparrow Group hopes that Express as an iconic brand in the USA and have a huge loyal customer base. After restructuring and some changes and new investments, Express will emerge again strongly. The company expects that as Bangladesh is a very strategic sourcing destination for Express, they will treat Bangladesh vendor’s pending payments and future orders in a favourable way.

Express Inc. said it has received a nonbinding letter of intent from a consortium led by brand management firm WHP Global. Other members of the consortium include mall landlords Simon Property Group and Brookfield Properties.

The offer is for the sale of a majority of the chain’s retail stores and operations. But given that it is a nonbinding offer, others could come in and kick the tyres.

Sources said Sycamore has already been snooping around and pondering a possible offer. Sycamore had its eye on Express back in June 2014, when word surfaced that it was interested in acquiring the retailer.

At the time Sycamore held a 9.9 percent interest in Express. The two were working on deal terms when the transaction collapsed in January 2025 due to certain financing issues.

However, WHP could be seen as having the upper hand since it has held a 7.4 percent investment stake in the company since January 2023. As part of that investment, WHP holds a 60 percent interest in a joint venture licensing agreement valued at $400 million, to which the brand management firm contributed $235 million.

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