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Looking To Avoid Bankruptcy, Macy's Angling For $5B In Debt Financing

Department store giant Macy's is trying to raise as much as $5B in debt financing to avoid bankruptcy. The company would use its inventory as collateral to obtain $3B, and it real estate to obtain as much as $2B, CNBC reports, citing anonymous sources.


The move comes as the coronavirus pandemic has put intense pressure on Macy's by cutting off most of its revenue. The company closed all of its 775 physical stores in March, including Macy's, Bloomingdale’s and Bluemercury, and furloughed most of its 125,000 employees.

“While the digital business remains open, we have lost the majority of our sales due to our store closures,” a spokesperson told CNBC.

Just before the pandemic, Macy's rolled out a three-year restructuring plan that it called Polaris, which involved cutting costs to save the company $1.5B annually by 2022. At the time, the retailer said it would close 125 underperforming stores. It isn't clear whether the company will opt not to reopen those stores after the pandemic runs its course.

Macy's had already contracted somewhat last year, closing a net of 25 locations during 2019, according to a recent Securities and Exchange Commission filing

The company is, however, moving forward with plans to consolidate its IT operations in hubs in Atlanta and New York. Earlier this month, the company won a key incentive to open a 630-worker IT facility in Midtown Atlanta.

The outlook for department stores as a retail segment looks bleak. Even before the pandemic, sales had been dropping consistently for years as more nimble competitors ate their lunch.

“The genre is toast, and looking at the other side of this, there are very few who are likely to survive," Columbia University’s Business School Director of Retail Studies Mark Cohen told the New York Times.

Both J.C. Penney Co. and Neiman Marcus are reportedly considering filing for bankruptcy, or at least renegotiating their debts. 

Department stores took the same drastic hit last month as much of the rest of the retail industry. Sales at department stores were down 19.7% month-over-month in March as many of them closed, the Census Bureau reports. Compared with March 2019, sales at department stores were down 23.9% last month.