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Pier 1 to shutter all stores, citing retail uncertainty following pandemic

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Robert Francis
Robert Francis
Robert is a Fort Worth native and longtime editor of the Fort Worth Business Press. He is a former president of the local Society of Professional Journalists and was a freelancer for a variety of newspapers, weeklies and magazines, including American Way, BrandWeek and InformatonWeek. A graduate of TCU, Robert has held a variety of writing and editing positions at publications such as the Grand Prairie Daily News and InfoWorld. He is also a musician and playwright.

Light a scented candle for Pier 1 Imports Inc.

The Fort Worth-based home furnishing retailer announced Tuesday, May 19, that it has sold its last hanging wicker chair. In its statement, company officials laid part of the blame on the pandemic, which it says has hindered “our ability to secure such a buyer and requiring us to wind down.”

The company said it will seek bankruptcy court approval to start an orderly wind-down of its business operations as soon as possible given current COVID-19 store closures.

The company is planning to sell its inventory and remaining assets, including intellectual property and e-commerce business through a court-supervised process. The company has proposed July 1, 2020 as the asset bid deadline, July 8, 2020 as the auction date and July 15, 2020 as the sale hearing date.

“This decision follows months of working to identify a buyer who would continue to operate our business going forward,” CEO and Chief Financial Officer Robert Riesbeck said in a statement. “Unfortunately, the challenging retail environment has been significantly compounded by the profound impact of COVID-19, hindering our ability to secure such a buyer and requiring us to wind down.”

The company will start liquidation sales as soon as stores can reopen in compliance with guidelines from states and health officials. Its debtor-in-possession lenders have agreed to allow the retailer to overdraw its DIP loan by about $40 million to support its continued operations through the wind-down period.

In February, Pier 1 initiated Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings in U.S Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.

The filing came followed an announcement earlier this year that Pier 1 would close 450 stores and lay off employees.

Pier 1 was founded in California in 1962 and established a relationship for selling trendy home goods such as beanbag chairs and hanging strands of love beads to serve as room dividers.

The company moved its headquarters to Texas and went public in 1970. During its glory years in the 1980s and 1990s it was one of the shining stars in the Fort Worth business community, heavily involved in local events and nonprofits. In 2004, it opened a 20 story headquarters building on the western edge of downtown. It has since sold the building.

In recent years, the company has moved into selling more conventional items such as furniture, dishes and decorative pieces but has struggled with competition from lower-priced retailers such as Walmart, Target, Home Goods and Wayfair.

Additional information regarding the company’s court-supervised process is available at https://dm.epiq11.com/Pier1

Kirkland & Ellis LLP and Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP are serving as legal advisors to Pier 1 in the U.S. and Canada, respectively. AlixPartners LLP is serving as the company’s restructuring advisor and Guggenheim Securities LLC is serving as the company’s investment banker.

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