Eastern Outfitters LLC is the latest retailer to shutter locations in an effort to survive declining sales amid dwindling foot traffic.
The Meriden, Conn.-based company will close some of its Eastern Mountain Sports and Bob’s Stores as it reorganizes under a deal with an affiliate of Sports Direct International PLC, the largest sporting goods store in the United Kingdom. Eastern Outfitters filed for Chapter 11 protection in February, joining at least nine major retailers that have filed for bankruptcy so far this year, including Wet Seat, The Limited LLC and HHGregg. (See also: ‘Year of Bankruptcies’ Looms.)
At the time of bankruptcy, Eastern Outfitters was close to closing all of its locations, but Sports Direct signed an agreement to provide an $85 million loan to help it repay some of its debts, including several missed monthly lease payments. Now, Sports Direct is analyzing Eastern Outfitters' locations to see which are viable enough for an acquisition, The Wall Street Journal reported. Court documents say Sports Direct “has identified certain locations that do not make economic sense to operate, particularly if the debtors are unable to get better terms on some of their leases.”
Eastern Outfitters operates 86 Eastern Mountain and Bob’s Stores locations that employ a combined 2,600 people. Eastern Mountain sells primarily outdoor and camping gear while Bob’s Stores sells footwear and apparel. Both stores operate primarily in the northeastern U.S.
The outdoor and sporting goods retailers are not the only struggling companies in their niche. Sports Authority filed for bankruptcy last year and Dick’s Sporting Goods (DKS) continues to try to look for ways to compete in a rapidly evolving retail climate. (See also: Dick’s Sporting Goods Dropping Unpopular Brands.)