David’s Bridal files for bankruptcy again


Dwight Burdette | Wikimedia Commons

Caryl Anne Francia, Business Editor

David’s Bridal, one of the largest retailers of bridal attire in the United States, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on April 17.

The announcement marked the second time within five years in which the Pennsylvania-based wedding dress retailer has entered bankruptcy proceedings. The move comes amid the company’s struggles to manage its debt and effects from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The company said that its website and 294 stores will remain open and continue to operate “without disruption or delay.” However, the company said it would wind down operations with assistance from liquidation firm Gordon Brothers Retail Partners if it cannot find a buyer, according to a filing to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of New Jersey.

The bridal attire retailer has taken at most $85 million in loans from credit lenders to maintain operations, which includes paying its employees and running its customer loyalty programs, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The company filed a notice to the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry, saying that it plans to lay off 9,236 employees nationwide.

David’s Bridal opened in 1950 as a bridal salon in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The company, which employs about 10,000 employees, is known for offering dresses for formal events at low prices. The retailer’s court filings say that it has provided dresses for over 70 million customers, according to CNBC.

The company reported that it accrued $256.9 million in debt. After it last filed for bankruptcy in November 2018, David’s Bridal was able to cut its debt by $450 million and end bankruptcy protection in January 2019.

David’s Bridal CEO James Marcum commended the company for moving to modernize its marketing and customer service, but he acknowledged the pandemic’s impact on its performance.

The United States recorded 1.7 million marriages in 2020, which is the lowest the nation has experienced in 121 years and led to a decline in demand for wedding attire, according to David’s Bridal. The company had recorded 2.2 million marriages on average annually in the years before the pandemic and 1.9 million marriages in 2022, according to The Wall Street Journal.

“Nonetheless, our business continues to be challenged by the post-COVID environment and uncertain economic conditions, leading us to take this step to identify a buyer who can continue to operate our business going forward,” Marcum said in a press release.

The company also cited the trend of consumers turning to second-hand bridal gowns as well as competition from online retailers.

The United States has also experienced a decline in marriages since the mid-1980s, according to data from the National Center for Health Statistics

“We are grateful to the seven decades of brides and customers who have trusted us with the most special events of their lives, as well as to the dedicated associates and valued partners who make our customers’ dreams come true,” Marcum said. “We remain as committed as ever to providing excellent service, delivering for our brides and customers, and being part of magical moments.”