Nieman Marcus files for bankruptcy

Upscale department store chain Nieman Marcus today filed for bankruptcy protection, the fanciest retailer to fail so far during the coronavirus pandemic.

Creditors hope to have the company solvent again next year. Though knocked out by the lockdown, the company was already sickly after years of private equity buyouts and its own general decrepitude.

At the end of March the coronavirus pandemic temporarily forced the closure of all 43 Neiman Marcus stores, as well as its two Bergdorf Goodman locations and Last Call outlets, all but stopping sales and crushing revenue. But while that may have been the immediate cause of Neiman's filing, its problems had been building for years. The company took on an untenable amount of debt as part of two leveraged buyouts by private-equity firms and did not respond quickly enough to changes in shopping habits. Together, those developments left the group in a precarious position even before the virus hit.