True Faith Denims Simply Declared Bankuptcy. Ought to Levi and Kontoor Traders Be Anxious?


The COVID-19 pandemic has pressured high-end denims maker True Faith to declare chapter, the second time since 2017 it has wanted to take action. The retailer stated it had little selection however to hunt court docket safety after authorities shelter-in-place orders pressured nonessential companies to shut their doorways, making a liquidity disaster for the corporate.

Whereas the pandemic has revealed quite a few companies with shaky monetary foundations, True Faith’s chapter may need buyers questioning whether or not there might be one thing endemic to the denim business that might trigger different denims makers like Levi Strauss (LEVI -0.29%), Wrangler and Lee denims proprietor Kontoor Manufacturers (KTB -1.12%), and even J. Crew’s Madewell to additionally go beneath.

Woman sorting through stack of denim jeans

Picture supply: Getty Photos.

A declining division retailer channel

There are actually some similarities that give rise to concern. Retailers, whatever the area of interest they service, are in actual hassle as necessary retailer closures drag on. Whereas the financially weakest would be the first to succumb, it isn’t going to take for much longer for extra dominoes to fall with none income coming in.

A part of True Faith’s drawback was that its denims had been offered in shops like Macy’s and Neiman Marcus, which themselves are susceptible as a result of their steadiness sheets had been already in precarious situation earlier than the pandemic. Neiman Marcus might quickly file for chapter as properly, based on Reuters. 

Macy’s is working with bankers at Lazard to assist recapitalize the corporate, whereas hiring restructuring legal professionals to deal with its debt, however it could be too late for Neiman Marcus, which has reportedly begun lacking funds to bondholders.

Not all shops are equal

Each Kontoor Manufacturers and Levi Strauss are additionally uncovered to the weak division retailer channel. Some 56% of Levi’s income comes via the wholesale channel, which within the U.S., its largest market, is primarily chain retailers and shops. 

It blamed the weak U.S. marketplace for the decline in wholesale income final 12 months. Regardless of having an iconic model title, Levi Strauss nonetheless suffered from financially troubled retailers and substantial numbers of companies closing down shops. Thankfully, nobody outlet accounts for greater than 10% of income, so even when one or a number of of its companions went beneath, the hit won’t be too extreme.

The identical won’t be capable of be stated of Kontoor Manufacturers, whose Wrangler and Lee manufacturers are additionally offered primarily via shops. It is largest buyer is Walmart (WMT -0.22%), which represents 34% of annual income.

Having its denims within the retail king is a plus as a result of, since additionally they promote groceries, Walmart shops are deemed important and stay open. However as Costco (COST -0.45%) has lately stated, that is not translating into attire gross sales. The place the warehouse membership noticed grocery gross sales surge by mid-20% ranges final month, attire gross sales tumbled by a like quantity.

Kontoor might discover that merely having its Wranglers on Walmart cabinets throughout the pandemic is not sufficient.

Not made for this market

Madewell is completely different from its rivals since 87% of its income comes from direct-to-consumer gross sales, 41% of which is e-commerce. It additionally operates 138 shops, which are typically close to purchasing malls, however not in them. The remainder of its income comes from its wholesale companions, together with Internet-a-Porter, Nordstrom, and Sew Repair.

Sadly, J. Crew not plans to spin off Madewell as a result of it could not attain a cope with its collectors. The financially troubled agency had been relying on the IPO to infuse its steadiness sheet with cash, however Bloomberg reported final month that bondholders had been involved over the retail atmosphere and the onset of the pandemic.

A fast decision is required

The most important concern buyers have in the intervening time is that retail shops aren’t open, so a lot of the denim makers aren’t producing income, even with their e-commerce platforms. Shoppers simply aren’t as involved with garments in the intervening time as they’re with discovering meals and fundamental requirements. 

Whereas different denims makers have some parallels with the plight of True Faith, that is in the end a case of a producer of an overpriced pair of pants seeing demand shelved as quickly as instances flip powerful. Its funds additionally weren’t sound, and whereas Madewell would have made for an fascinating alternative for buyers, J. Crew wants its profit-making operations simply to outlive, although it could revisit the choice sooner or later.

Levi Strauss and Kontoor Manufacturers, however, ought to have the ability to experience out the storm, presuming it would not rage on too lengthy.



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