By Lenore Fedow
The flagship Lord & Taylor store on New York’s Fifth Avenue, which the company sold to WeWork in 2018. The retailer will reportedly hold going-out-of-business sales then close its stores, as per a Reuters report.
New York—Storied retailer Lord & Taylor, one of the oldest U.S. department store chains, may not make it through the pandemic.

The retailer will liquidate the inventory in its 38 department stores once they reopen, according to a Reuters report.

Sources told Reuters the retailer is holding off on a bankruptcy filing and liquidation until its stores can reopen and hold going-out-of-business sales.

Once the merchandise is sold, the stores will be permanently closed, said the sources, who asked to remain anonymous because the liquidation preparations are confidential.

Lord & Taylor has reportedly been exploring its options, which include bankruptcy, credit negotiations, and seeking out additional financing.

Sources said it is still possible that external funding or another option could come through and save the retailer.

Last year, clothing rental subscription service Le Tote acquired Lord & Taylor, purchasing the retailer from Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) for $100 million.

As per the terms of the deal, Le Tote assumed responsibility for operations and extended employment offers to many of the retailer’s associates.

It also acquired Lord & Taylor’s brands, intellectual property, digital channels and inventory.

HBC and its real estate arm, HBS Global Properties (a joint venture with Simon Property Group), retained ownership of all Lord & Taylor-related owned and ground-leased property.

The company agreed to continue to pay the rent for the next three years and expected to be liable for approximately $58 million in Lord & Taylor rent on an annual basis.

HBC may use the bankruptcy filing to “take some of its leases back from the department store operator,” a source told Reuters.

HBC sold Lord & Taylor’s flagship store on New York’s Fifth Avenue to WeWork in 2018.

Le Tote “is working through various options at this time” a company spokesperson said in an email to National Jeweler, but declined to comment on the potential liquidation.

Hudson’s Bay Company did not respond to a request for comment.

Lord & Taylor was founded in 1826 by English immigrants in New York’s Lower East Side neighborhood.

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