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All These Companies Filed for Bankruptcy in 2021

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Store Closure
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Biggest 2021 Bankruptcies

After the bankruptcy bloodbath that was 2020, which saw dozens of iconic brands including JCPenney and Neiman Marcus seek Chapter 11 protection, 2021 was comparatively quiet. Still, a number of notable companies did find themselves on financially shaky ground. Here's a rundown of several well-known companies that have filed for bankruptcy in the last year.


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Christopher & Banks
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Christopher & Banks

This women's clothing chain filed for bankruptcy in mid-January, saying it would close "a significant portion, if not all" of its 449 stores, most of which were in malls across the country. It appears to have made good on that plan, with the website listing only five locations open at the end of 2021. Executives said COVID-19 was to blame for a huge drop in sales. 


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L'Occitane
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L'Occitane

This high-end beauty brand's U.S. division filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection at the end of January, citing crushing rent obligations in light of COVID-19's drag on sales. The chain had 166 stores across the country and said it would close 23 of the least profitable locations, but the number ended up closer to 40, Bloomberg reports.


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Cici's
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Cici's

Germophobes steered clear of buffets even before the pandemic, making the struggles of restaurants such as Cici's one of the least surprising impacts of COVID-19. The all-you-can-eat pizza chain, which had nearly 320 locations across the country, filed for Chapter 11 protection at the end of January and said the company would be sold to its main creditor, D&G Investors. At the end of 2021, the chain lists 295 locations. 


Related: These Buffet Chains Have Closed Locations Permanently

Belk
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Belk

One of the South's most prominent department-store chains, Belk joined several of its struggling competitors with a Chapter 11 protection filing in January. The company quickly shed $450 million in debt and kept stores open while it restructured. It hasn't closed stores as part of its bankruptcy and installed a new CEO, but Retail Dive says it's still at risk.


Related: Iconic Department Stores We Miss

Solstice Sunglasses
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Solstice Sunglasses

This sunglasses chain with close to 65 stores nationwide saw its retail sales cut in half during the pandemic, leading to a Chapter 11 protection filing in mid-February. The company specializes in designer brands such as Gucci, Prada, and Versace. It was unclear whether any stores would close as part of the reorganization, but that may have come to pass: The website now lists only 44 open locations.


Related: 50 Events That Made Retail History Before the Pandemic

Paper Source Storefront
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Paper Source

The third major stationery chain to declare bankruptcy in a little over a year, Paper Source filed for Chapter 11 protection in March. Its footprint shrank to around 130 stores from 160, and Barnes & Noble bought it out of bankruptcy in May. The company grew rapidly in recent years, but pandemic-related closings kept stores dark during big holidays in 2020. A rival chain, the Paper Store, filed for bankruptcy in the summer of 2020, and mall staple Papyrus liquidated and closed all its stores in early 2020.

Alamo Drafthouse storefront
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Alamo Drafthouse

This beloved dine-in movie chain filed for bankruptcy in March and shut down three theaters but has emerged after selling its assets to a group of investors. Competitor Studio Movie Grill also filed for bankruptcy, in October 2020, while mega-chain AMC Theatres got nearly $1 billion from investors to beat back bankruptcy in early 2021.


Related: Stores and Brands You Thought Were Dead But Aren't

Former Old Country Buffet
Former Old Country Buffet by Dwight Burdette (CC BY)

Fresh Acquisitions

Even if you've never heard of Fresh Acquisitions, you probably heard of one of its brands, especially if you love buffets or steak: The company owned Old Country Buffet, Ryan's, Hometown Buffet, Furr's Fresh Buffet, and Tahoe Joe's Famous Steakhouse. The pandemic forced it into Chapter 11 protection and closed most of its restaurants, which dwindled to six from about 100. Famous Dave's parent BBQ Holdings has since bought Fresh Acquisitions, but has shown little interest in  any of the brands except for Tahoe Joe's.

The Lost Cajun
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The Lost Cajun

This casual-dining chain that serves gumbo, jambalaya, and other Cajun favorites filed for Chapter 11 protection in April. It cited "significant revenue losses" stemming from the pandemic, but appears to have lost few, if any, of its more than two dozen locations in seven states, including many in Colorado and Texas.


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Alex and Ani storefront in the Stanford Shopping Center in Palo Alto, California
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Alex and Ani

This trendy jewelry company, founded in Rhode Island in 2004, grew by leaps and bounds in recent years, opening 100 stores across the country. But it was behind on loan payments by 2019, and COVID-19 forced it to "pause its key strategic growth initiatives," the company acknowledged. Of course, that included temporary store closings in 2020. It ultimately filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in June. 

Closed shopping mall stores
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Washington Prime Group

The pandemic has been particularly brutal for malls, which were already losing ground to ecommerce before the pandemic. Washington Prime, owner of more than 100 malls across the country, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in June, saying COVID-19 made it necessary to restructure. The pandemic led to store closings and rent relief for many mall tenants, both of which eventually caught up to commercial landlords such as Washington Prime. It emerged from bankruptcy a couple of months later with a new CEO and $1 billion less debt.

Pacific Theaters
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Pacific Theatres

With pandemic restrictions shuttering movie theaters (and many people still reluctant to sit in an indoor space full of strangers even when they lifted), the pandemic crushed movie theaters — some for good. Pacific Theatres and ArcLight Cinemas, which had 16 locations, filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy so that the chain's remaining assets could be liquidated for creditors. 


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All Saints Las Vegas
All Saints Las Vegas by FASTILY (CC BY-SA)

Global Brands

Global Brands Group, which filed for Chapter 11 protection at the end of July and has subsequently said it will wind down its business, might not be a familiar name, but there's a chance you know some of the clothing brands the company has licensed, such as All Saints, Le Tigre, Capezio, and Saga. Also, around 85% of Global Brands' sales came from wholesaling to major companies including Macy's, Costco, T.J. Maxx, Amazon, Nordstrom, Dillard's, Burlington, Bloomingdale's, and Neiman Marcus, according to Retail Dive. When people stopped buying new clothes during the pandemic, the company's sales fell 44%, and supply chain problems further complicated matters.

Jessica Simpson Shoe Collection
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Sequential Brands

Sequential Brands, the owner of labels including Jessica Simpson, Joe's Jeans, And1, and Avia, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection at the end of August. Saying that its debt load had made it impossible to operate its portfolio of brands, the company is looking to sell most or all of its assets at auction. Sequential already had a fire sale trying to pay off its debt, selling the brands Ellen Tracy and Caribbean Joe in August for a third of what it paid for them in 2013. Jessica Simpson reclaimed her brand from Sequential in November.


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Philippine Airlines
Philippine Airlines by Ken Fielding (CC BY-SA)

Philippine Airlines

The No. 1 carrier in the Philippines filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in U.S. court in early September, following a path already taken by multiple airlines based in Latin America since the pandemic decimated air travel. Philippine Airlines continues to operate as normal under the restructuring agreement and hopes to exit bankruptcy by the year's end.


Related: 18 Ways the Pandemic Changed Travel

ABC Carpet & Home
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ABC Carpet & Home

After more than a century of selling high-end home goods, this mainstay of New York City's Flatiron District filed for Chapter 11 protection in September. The iconic family-owned retailer says the pandemic hit its business hard, driving potential customers out of New York City. ABC was particularly reliant on in-store foot traffic, and its sales were down a staggering 50% in 2021 compared with 2018, according to the New York Post. 


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Sean "P. Diddy" Combs with Sean-Jean Wheels
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Sean John

Apparel brand Sean John is the latest notable company to file for Chapter 11 at the end of August. It's backed by that Sean — Sean Combs, who has also gone by Puff Daddy, P. Diddy, and yes, Sean John — and the hip-hop mogul isn't letting his label go down without a fight. He appears poised to buy the brand out of bankruptcy, offering a cool $3.3 million, reports Bloomberg. Right now, Sean John is under the umbrella of Global Brands, which itself filed for bankruptcy in July. 


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