Eastern Outfitters LLC, the parent of discount chain Bob's Stores and outdoor retailer Eastern Mountain Sports, filed for bankruptcy protection on Sunday, the latest U.S. retailer to do so amid increased competitive pressure facing the sector.
British sportswear retailer Sports Direct International Plc (SPD.L) has engaged in extensive talks with Eastern Outfitters to become a stalking-horse bidder in a bankruptcy auction, the Chapter 11 filing showed.
Sports Direct could not be immediately reached for comment outside regular business hours.
Eastern Outfitters listed assets and liabilities in the range of $100 million to $500 million, according to court documents filed in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware. bit.ly/2kcgcNn
Eastern Outfitters is owned by private equity firm Versa Capital Management LLC, which acquired Bob's and Eastern Mountain Sports through the bankruptcy last year of Vestis Retail Group LLC, the previous owner of the store chains.
Versa said at the time that Eastern Outfitters had more than $400 million in annual revenue.
The two retailers and Sports Chalet were indirectly owned by Versa when it filed for Chapter 11 in April. Versa bought the chains back during the course of the bankruptcy.
Another Versa investment, Wet Seal, plans to close all 171 stores and lay off 3,000, the Wall Street Journal reported last month.
Retailers that filed for bankruptcy last year include Aeropostale Inc (AROPQ.PK), Pacific Sunwear of California Inc PSUN.MU, Sports Authority and American Apparel.
In addition, department store chains such as Sears Holdings Corp (SHLD.O) and Macy's Inc (M.N) are planning on closing scores of locations this year.
Meanwhile, internet retailer Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) said this month it planned to add 100,000 jobs, expanding its workforce by more than 50 percent, to speed up deliveries.
(Reporting by Tom Hals in Wilmington, Delaware and Sangameswaran S in Bengaluru; Editing by Amrutha Gayathri)