15 Companies That Died In The Past Year


Photo: Joseph P. Pasaoa

The recession may be officially over, but some companies just can’t catch a break.Bankruptcy victims include retailers who cater to an upscale market or companies that took on too much debt in earlier years. 

Others — like Blockbuster and Borders — were no match for the lower prices and faster service of online retailers.

Many companies were able to stay in business as they worked through bankruptcy and restructured their debts, with customers barely noticing.

The owner of the W Boston Hotel was bankrupt six months after opening the luxury hotel.

Filed for bankruptcy: April 2010

In a stunning example of bad timing, the owner of the upscale W Boston Hotel and Residences filed for bankruptcy protection in April after unveiling its new 28-story tower in Boston just a few months earlier.

After spending more than a decade to build it, SW Boston Hotel Venture LLC opened the luxury hotel and condo on October 2009 as the hotel market plummeted and condo sales remained weak.

Bloomberg Businessweek recently reported the developer had received an offer to sell the hotel portion of the project for $89.5 million. SW will retain ownership of the 90 unsold condominium units. 30-two have been sold, and five are under contract.

Jennifer Convertibles couldn't get anyone to buy its sofas and now has a new owner.

Filed for bankruptcy: July 2010

Furniture sales sank during the recession, and due to several back-to-back quarterly losses and an inability to find alternate financing, the sofa seller had to file for bankruptcy.

The company emerged from bankruptcy in February under a new ownership. Its largest creditor and foreign supplier, Haining Mengnu, now owns roughly 90% of the new Jennifer Convertibles.

The company is down to 64 Jennifer Convertibles stores from the 142 stores it had before filing, according to Mergers & Acquisitions.

Guests can't tell, but the owner of Hilton and Hyatt hotels is bankrupt.

Filed for bankruptcy: July 2010

Innkeepers USA owns more than 70 hotels that operate under brands like Hilton, Hyatt, Residence Inn, Hampton Inn, and Summerfield Suites.

Apollo Investment Corp., a private-equity firm, bought the company in 2007, taking on hundreds of millions in debt to finance the purchase, reported the Wall Street Journal. As property values fell and business dried up during the recession, the company did not have the cash flow needed to pay down its loans.

It's now working its way through a 'prepackaged' bankruptcy that allows most of its properties to operate normally.

Blockbuster will close 110 stores by the end of March.

The IRS says Ambac received more than $700 million in unwarranted tax refunds.

Loehmann's declared bankruptcy in November but hopes to be back on its feet sometime this year.

Filed for bankruptcy: November 2010

The November bankruptcy filing was the second for the discount clothing retailer, which also declared Chapter 11 in 1999 and emerged a year later.

A Dubai-based investing firm bought Loehmann's in 2006, taking on more debt than it could manage as sales tumbled during the recession, according to U.S. News. Loehmann's filed for bankruptcy after defaulting on $110 million worth of debt.

Loehmann's hopes to write off debt and be solvent once again in 2011, with most of its 46 stores operating as normal.

Metro Goldwyn Mayer was bankrupt for seven weeks but came back with $500 million in new credit.

Scandal! People aren't buying The National Enquirer.

Filed for bankruptcy: November 2010

As new gossip sites like Gawker, TMZ, and JustJared continue to pop up online, older publications like the National Enquirer and Star are struggling to get the attention of readers and advertisers.

American Media Inc. listed debts of between $500 million and $1 billion, according to the Wall Street Journal. The parent company listed assets of less than $50,000, but its operations subsidiary pegged its assets at between $100 million and $500 million.

A&P is expected to close 32 stores in six states by April.

Filed for bankruptcy: December 2010

The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company, better known as A&P, listed total debts of more than $3.2 billion and assets of about $2.5 billion in a petition filed in bankruptcy court in White Plains, N.Y. in December.

The 150-year-old grocery chain, with 395 stores, struggled during the recession, and also took on more debt when it acquired competitor Pathmark in 2007.

The financial strain forced A&P to declare bankruptcy. The company plans to keep operating its stores, which include the Super Fresh, Waldbaum, and Food Emporium chains, while it restructures.

Movie Gallery, America's second-largest video and game rental company, is no more.

Filed for bankruptcy: February 2010

Movie Gallery, which ran Hollywood Video and was once the second-largest video-rental chain in America, first filed for Chapter 11 protection in 2008, then filed again in February 2010 when its restructuring plan failed to gain traction.

The firm tried to keep some stores open, but eventually closed all of its 2,400 U.S. outlets, laying off 19,000 workers, says US News.

The Oriental Trading Company shed 70% of its debt and is hoping customers still need rubber toys and party supplies.

Filed for bankruptcy: August 2010

The company that provides us with paper umbrellas for our drinks, novelty gifts and other party supplies, filed for bankruptcy protection to restructure its debt in August.

Its liabilities totaled $756.6 million, and net sales were $485.4 million, according to Bloomberg.

Six months later, on its website, the Nebraska-based company said it was exiting from bankruptcy with a 'significantly improved capital structure and strong liquidity, having reduced its debt by nearly 70%.'

Urban Brands is slimming down its Ashley Stewart stores.

Filed for bankruptcy: September 2010

The parent firm of the Ashley Stewart brand, which caters to plus-sized women, began to struggle in 2007, and finally declared bankruptcy on September 21.

Urban Brands, based in Secaucus, New Jersey, listed debts of $100 million to $500 million and assets of $10 million to $50 million.

An affiliate of Gordon Brothers Group LLC, a store liquidation specialist, won an auction in October to bring Urban Brands out of bankruptcy. It said it would save at least 175 of the chain's 210 stores, reported Bloomberg.

Upscale furniture store Robb & Stucky is liquidating its $90 million inventory.

Filed for bankruptcy: February 2011

A weak housing market and high unemployment forced the high-end furniture store Robb & Stucky to close its doors, said the Tampa Bay Business Journal.

The 95-year-old Fort Myers-based store had more than $60 million in debt when it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Feb. 18. It has 20 stores in Florida, Texas, Arizona and Nevada.

In a joint venture, liquidation firms Hudson Capital and Hyperams LLC bought the company in March and began selling its inventory, valued at $90 million, at steep discounts.

Borders is bankrupt but its books still cost more than Amazon's.

Filed for bankruptcy: February 2011

After being squeezed by Internet retailers and weighed down by too much debt, Borders Group Inc. filed for Chapter 11 protection with plans to close about 30% of its 642 stores and focus on e-books and non-book products.

Borders' liquidation sales are not necessarily a great deal for consumers, The Consumerist and Bloomberg Businessweek point out.

'While slashing prices to convert every book, DVD and CD into cash before their contract expires April 30, the art of liquidation requires they keep prices high for popular items,' reports Bloomberg.

Harry & David is bankrupt but club members will still get their fruit of the month.

Filed for bankruptcy: March 2011

The renowned gourmet food supplier, known for its upscale gift baskets, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection to restructure its debt after reports of disappointing holiday sales.

Like many high-end companies, Harry & David's sales were hurt by the recession as many consumers cut back on their spending. According to the bankruptcy filing, the company's current debt and assets may be as much as $500 million.

According to a company press release, customers will still be able to purchase products online and at Harry & David's 70 stores nationwide during this restructuring period.

The company will continue to honour gift cards, loyalty programs and most importantly of all, it will continue to send out boxes of fruit to members of its fruit of the month club.

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