By Mary Hladky
Lord & Taylor is closing its Boca Raton store in Mizner Park and has filed for bankruptcy court protection along with its new owner, clothing rental company Le Tote.
The venerable retailer, which traces its roots to 1826 in New York, joins a long list of companies that have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy since May as the coronavirus pandemic takes its toll on those that were already teetering. Others include Neiman Marcus, J. Crew, J.C. Penney and Brooks Brothers.
Le Tote and Lord & Taylor are seeking a new owner, the companies said in an Aug. 3 release.
Lord & Taylor initially announced that it was closing 19 of its 38 stores, including its Mizner Park location. On Aug. 27, the company said it is closing all of its stores. All are holding closing sales.
“Today, we announced our search for a new owner who believes in our legacy and values,” the company said in a full-page ad appearing in the Aug. 4 New York Times. “Part of our announcement also includes filing for Chapter 11 protection to overcome the unprecedented strain the COVID-19 pandemic has placed on our business.”
At an Aug. 3 bankruptcy court hearing, Lord & Taylor received a judge’s permission to close all of its 38 stores if that became necessary, Forbes reported. Its existing stores are down from 45 in 2019.
It is not clear how long the Mizner Park store will remain open. The Aug. 3 release did not specify, and the company did not respond to an inquiry by The Coastal Star.
Dana Romanelli Schearer, general manager for retail for Mizner Park owner Brookfield Property Partners, did not respond to a voicemail seeking information on what Brookfield will do with the Lord & Taylor building.
Lord & Taylor’s website stated in early August that returns would no longer be accepted at the Mizner Park store and that all closing sale purchases were final. As of Aug. 14, the Mizner Park store would not accept online returns. The store also would not honor coupons, mall certificates, Lord & Taylor Reward/Award Cards or prices offered at other Lord & Taylor locations.
Customers could continue to shop on the Lord & Taylor website.
Lord & Taylor stores dotted South Florida in the early 2000s. But the company exited the state in 2004, closing stores in Boca’s Town Center mall, the Mall at Wellington Green and the Palm Beach Mall, among others, in the wake of an ill-fated expansion strategy.
As the chain regrouped, Lord & Taylor opened in Mizner Park in 2013. It is the chain’s only brick-and-mortar store in Florida.
But Le Tote, which purchased Lord & Taylor last November from Hudson’s Bay Company, struggled to breathe new life into the chain before COVID-19 forced the temporary closure of many stores in March. The Mizner Park store reopened in May.