Brooks Brothers — pioneer of the polo and uniform of the polished prepster — filed for bankruptcy on Wednesday, as it continues to search for a buyer.
The retailer, which is more than two centuries old, boasts of having dressed 40 U.S. presidents and countless investment bankers. Early to the office-casual look, it became known for its crisp oxfords and jaunty sports jackets. But rent had become a burden, and the pandemic torpedoed a sale process that began in 2019.
“Over the past year, Brooks Brothers’ board, leadership team, and financial and legal advisors have been evaluating various strategic options to position the company for future success, including a potential sale of the business,” a spokesperson for the retailer said.
The brand has attracted significant interest from potential acquirers, CNBC has reported, but many have preferred to buy the brand with fewer stores.
It began to evaluate which of its roughly 250 North American stores to close in early April. It has already decided to close about 51, a decision it attributes to the pandemic. Most of those store closures have already begun, and the company has moved inventory from the targeted stores to distribution centers. The retailer is proceeding with plans to reopen the majority of stores it shut due to the pandemic.