Cast away: Pier 1 to liquidate assets, shutter business

Coronavirus helped sink the home goods company, has been unable to find a buyer and will close its remaining 500 stores

Pier 1 CEO Robert Riesbeck (Credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Pier 1 CEO Robert Riesbeck (Credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Pier 1 Imports’ plan to sell the home decor company has turned into a plan to shut down, becoming the latest retail casualty of the coronavirus pandemic.

The chain has filed a motion seeking approval from a bankruptcy court to start winding down its retail operations as soon as possible once its 540 remaining stores nationwide are allowed to reopen. The announcement was made Tuesday.

Pier 1 plans to sell its inventory and remaining assets as part of the process, including its intellectual property and e-commerce business.

Pier 1 had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in February, about a month after it announced it would close 450 stores across the country. The company said at the time that it planned to use the move to sell the company, but Tuesday’s announcement indicates it is now switching to a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, or a liquidation.

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CEO Robert Riesbeck said in a statement that this was “not the outcome we expected or hoped to achieve” for the company.

“This decision follows months of working to identify a buyer who would continue to operate our business going forward,” he said. “Unfortunately, the challenging retail environment has been significantly compounded by the profound impact of Covid-19, hindering our ability to secure such a buyer and requiring us to wind down.”

Pier 1 ultimately determined that shutting down was the best way to maximize the value of its assets, it said. The Texas-based company has proposed deadlines of July 1 for bids on its assets, July 8 for the auction, and July 15 for the sale hearing.

The retail industry, which was already hobbled before the pandemic, has been slammed with a wave of bankruptcies over the past few weeks alone. Those include Neiman Marcus, J. Crew and on Monday, J.C. Penney.