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Dean & DeLuca Closes Dozens Of Stores As It Allegedly Struggles To Pay Its Bills

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Dean & DeLuca Closes Dozens Of Stores As It Allegedly Struggles To Pay Its Bills
Dean & DeLuca in Soho, New York

Luxury grocer Dean & DeLuca is battling lawsuits from suppliers that claim they haven’t been paid, as the company continues shrinking its brick-and-mortar presence across the country.

The retailer’s owner, Thailand-based Pace Development Corp., has reduced the number of Dean & DeLuca locations from 42 to 18, the New York Post reports. Meanwhile, New York City bakery Elenis says it is owed $86K for cookies sold to the store for which it was never paid. Ceci Cela Patisserie is also suing the company, claiming it is owed $70K.

Dean & DeLuca is also pulling back rapidly from an ambitious expansion plan. Pace, which is owned by real estate tycoon Sorapoj Techakraisri, paid $140M for the gourmet food chain back in 2014. At the time, the company said it would expand by hundreds of stores within two years.

“The best margins in the business of premium property development of the future is in offering customers a lifestyle — not just bricks and mortar,” Techakraisri said at the time, according to the Wall Street Journal. However, the company has now closed four stores in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Wichita, Kansas. It backed out of three leases in Manhattan last year.

The company planned to open a second D.C.-area Dean & DeLuca across 14K SF at JBG Smith’s 4749 Bethesda Ave. But earlier this month it announced the store was not moving ahead. A much-hyped plan to open a store in London was also put on ice.

Across the board, the retail sector is facing enormous challenges. In the first three months of this year, 2,000 store closures were announced, and major retailers are looking for ways to keep shoppers coming into stores.

Dean & DeLuca President Laura Lendrum told the Post the retailer is “renewing our focus on our New York City and Napa Valley flagship stores as well as our e-commerce business.”