David’s Bridal, the nation’s biggest wedding-gown retailer, said this week it plans to file for bankruptcy “very soon” — and it’s doing advance damage control.
The Conshohocken, Pa.-based retailer said Thursday it reached a restructuring agreement with the “vast majority” of its lenders to slash $400 million in debt. It also secured $40 million in new financing to keep operations humming.
Looking to calm customer nerves, Chief Executive Scott Key posted a video on Thursday, promising that clients “won’t see any change in the service” at its 300 boutiques, guaranteeing that all orders and alterations will be delivered “on time.”
Concerned brides on Friday jammed phone lines and rushed to stores —including its Big Apple location in the Flatiron District — demanding reassurances that they’d get the dresses they paid for, according to sources.
Brides with already-frazzled nerves might have reason to worry: The last time a big bridal chain went bust, thousands of brides didn’t get the gowns that they had paid for.
Alfred Angelo, which manufactured and sold gowns in its 60 stores and in 1,400 other retailers worldwide, unexpectedly liquidated in July 2017, leaving hundreds of brides in the lurch.
At the time, David’s Bridal sought to capitalize on the disaster, offering the jilted customers a 40-percent discount on a new gown.
But now, the 60-year-old company, which was caught flat-footed by an industry that is increasingly moving online and gaining new competitors, is scrambling to avoid Alfred Angelo’s fate.
“For 60 years David’s has delivered for our customers on time, and the agreement announced today allows us to maintain that tradition for many years to come,” Key said in a statement.
The company’s newer rivals, including a bevy of online start-ups, are one of the reasons the it is struggling.
Former David’s Bridal executive Angela Ning, who worked there for a decade, says the company now controls about one third of the market, down from 50 percent 15 years ago. Ning, who is based in Hong Kong has since joined competitor Anomalie, which makes custom gowns.
“The fashion trends changed from the old-school ballgowns and puffy sleeves,” Ning told The Post. “Customers wanted more options than David’s was offering.”
Indeed, one stylist at a David’s Bridal shop in Virginia admitted she’s giving up a 25 percent discount from the chain to purchase her own wedding gown from Anomalie.
The sales associate, who did not want to be identified, took a photo of a $3,200 gown she found at another boutique and Anamolie is making the gown for half the price.
“About half the people who come into the Virgina shop,” the associate said “are looking for something we just don’t carry.”
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