Belk Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing should not interfere with store operation

Published 1:18 pm Wednesday, January 27, 2021

NATCHEZ — Belk’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing should look like nothing has changed for Natchez and nearly 300 store locations across the Southeast, company officials said.

Belk announced that it will file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and “plans to continue normal operations throughout its financial restructuring process” in a news release on Tuesday.

Once the company does file, Belk expects to be out of Chapter 11 by the end of February due to an agreement reached between the company’s owner, Sycamore Partners, and its creditors, Jenny Anderson, senior director of public relations for Belk, said Wednesday.

The filing and financial restructuring plan should help the company reduce debt by approximately $450 million and extend maturities on all term loans to July 2025, the news release states.

Sycamore Partners will retain majority control of Belk while KKR Credit and Blackstone Credit along with other lenders acquire minority ownership in Belk, according to the release.

“Belk will remain open for business and our customers will continue to receive the quality merchandise and service they expect when shopping at Belk’s nearly 300 stores across the Southeast and at belk.com,” Anderson said. “We do not anticipate any store closings or layoffs in conjunction with this financial restructuring, including our store in Natchez.”

Anderson said, “this infusion of new capital” is expected to strengthen Belk financially and help the company invest in strategic initiatives to improve the shopping experience and expand Belk’s product offerings in home goods, outdoor and wellness.

“Our policies and commitment to providing quality service and merchandise are unchanged,” Anderson said. “The shopping experience with Belk, whether in our stores or online, will be the same that our customers have come to know, love and expect.”

Belk has served customers for approximately 130 years since the first store opened May 29, 1888, in Monroe, N.C.

“Belk has a 130-year legacy of providing quality products at great prices,” Belk CEO Lisa Harper said in the Tuesday news release. “Like all retailers navigating COVID-19, our priority has been the safety of our associates, customers and communities. “As the ongoing effects of the pandemic have continued, we’ve been assessing potential options to protect our future. We’re confident that this agreement puts us on the right long-term path toward significantly reducing our debt and providing us with greater financial flexibility to meet our obligations and to continue investing in our business, including further enhancements and additions to Belk’s omnichannel capabilities.”

The Natchez store opened in 1977 as a McRae’s and was converted to Belk in 2005 when the company bought the McRae’s and Proffitt’s stores.