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Dean & DeLuca files for bankruptcy, still hopes to reopen stores

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Dean & DeLuca, the pioneering gourmet grocer that shuttered its New York stores last year, filed for bankruptcy with hopes of revitalizing the chain.

[NEW YORK] Dean & DeLuca, the pioneering gourmet grocer that shuttered its New York stores last year, filed for bankruptcy with hopes of revitalizing the chain.

The company's goal is to cut a restructuring deal with creditors and eventually re-open its stores, according to Chapter 11 papers filed late Tuesday in US Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan. The filing follows a failed effort to restructure outside of court. Dean & DeLuca ceased operations in New York in mid-2019 after running short of cash.

The company listed liabilities of as much as US$500 million and assets of no more than US$50 million in its bankruptcy petition. The chain owes low-ranking creditors about US$275 million, including US$250 million to its owner, according to a declaration from Chief Restructuring Officer Joseph Baum.

Dean & DeLuca's New York stores introduced Americans to international delicacies more than four decades ago and spawned a cohort of upscale gourmets. But the chain faltered amid heightened competition and lackluster sales.

A wave of distress has befallen grocers in recent months, with the likes of Fairway Group Holdings, Earth Fare  and Lucky's Market all seeking Chapter 11 protection. Pressure from larger rivals and the competitive creep of online purveyors have squeezed regional chains.

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Dean & DeLuca has just one remaining employee, according to court papers. Some franchise locations are continuing to operate.

The chain's owner, Thailand's Pace Development Corp, defaulted on a total of about US$315 million of debt last year.

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