Bed Bath & Beyond files for bankruptcy, to go out of business

One of the world’s best-known homewares chains has made the “difficult decision” to go out of business.

After months of struggle and speculation, US retailer Bed Bath & Beyond – which specialises in home textiles, housewares and decorative home accessories – has filed for bankruptcy, with no hope for salvation.

“Thank you to all of our loyal customers. We have made the difficult decision to begin winding down our operations,” a message at the top of the company’s website now states.

The company was founded in the US in 1971 and quickly rose to global prominence, with stores opening in Canada, Mexico and Puerto Rico as well.

Today there are around 14,000 employees at 360 worldwide stores and 120 buybuy BABY stores – an offshoot specialising in children’s items – and the company has vowed that most will remain open for now.

It’s a far cry from the 1560 Bed Bath & Beyond locations that existed as recently as 2017.

The business has scored a loan worth $US240 million ($358 million) to keep things running as the bankruptcy proceedings get underway, with the firm hoping to secure a buyer to take over the troubled chain.

However, it is not known whether that will be possible – and if a buyer is found, it is widely expected Bed Bath & Beyond will change dramatically, perhaps by becoming online-only.

Later this week, the brand will launch liquidation stores as it attempts to offload stock.

“Ultimately, if it emerges from bankruptcy at all, Bed Bath & Beyond will be a shadow of its former self,” Neil Saunders, an analyst at GlobalData Retail, told CNN.

According to Bed Bath & Beyond’s bankruptcy filing made on Sunday in the US District Court in New Jersey, it has a whopping $US5.2 billion in debt and assets of just $US4.4 billion.

It has been a stunning fall from grace for the brand, which became a pop culture icon in the 1990s and 200s and which was valued at $US81 ($121) per share in 2014.

But now, that value has all but disappeared, with a dismal share price of just $US0.28 ($0.42).

In a statement, Bed Bath & Beyond said it voluntarily made the filing “to implement an orderly wind down of its businesses while conducting a limited marketing process to solicit interest in one or more sales of some or all of its assets”.

The news has hardly come as a shock, with the company announcing earlier this year it would close 87 shops in 2023 in a bid to avoid bankruptcy. That announcement came off the back of the closure of 150 stores in 2022, with thousands of staff members losing their jobs as a result.

In February, the brand also attempted to raise $US1 billion by selling shares in a public offering, which was ultimately a flop.

However, in January Bed Bath & Beyond’s share price abruptly surged after it became the target of a meme-rally.

The surge occurred as rumours spread that it could be a potential acquisition target.

And in September 2022, Bed Bath & Beyond executive Gustavo Arnal died suddenly after taking his own life in New York.

At the time, he was facing a $US1.2 billion ($1.7 billion) “pump-and-dump” stock-fraud suit.

The month before his death, Mr Arnal sold 55,013 shares in Bed Bath & Beyond shortly before the company revealed it would close 150 stores and lay off about 20 per cent of its 32,000 workers as part of a restructuring plan to boost its money-losing business.

Originally published as ‘Difficult decision’: Homewares chain Bed Bath & Beyond shuts down

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