Rocky Times for Casual Male

Casual Male lost $29.9 million on nearly $472 million in sales for the year ended Feb. 3

May was a rough month for Casual Male Corp. First, the men’s apparel cataloger/retailer, whose titles include Repp Ltd. Big and Tall, The Casual Male Big and Tall, and Work ‘n Gear, filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on May 18.

Then on May 31, Casual Male was delisted by Nasdaq, because since March the company’s stock had not closed above the minimum $5 per share required by the stock exchange.

Of course, the months prior to May hadn’t been a cakewalk for Casual Male either. For the fiscal year ended Feb. 3, the Canton, MA-based company (known before February as J. Baker) lost $29.9 million. Just a year earlier, it had posted net earnings of $8.9 million.

Casual Male also took a $40.4 million loss for the February sale of its footwear business to Mahwah, NJ-based Footstar Corp. “The disposal of the footwear business, and the fact that sales thus far in the year are less than expected due to weather and economic conditions, have affected our business,” says Casual Male spokesman Mike O’Hara. The wintry spring weather throughout much of the country dissuaded consumers from buying spring apparel, he says. “And May was disappointing and wet, so across the board, men’s retail has suffered.”

Plotting a turnaround

Casual Male is working hard to lift itself out of Chapter 11. In May the $471.8 million company signed a $135 million credit facility with a lending group led by Fleet Retail Finance and Back Bay Capital Funding. And as of mid-June, it was planning to cut back on staff, although O’Hara would not disclose specifics: “Some jobs will be lost, but there is no plan for widescale layoffs.”

Since its retail chains account for the lion’s share of Casual Male’s revenue, it’s not surprising that, as O’Hara says, “We haven’t spent much time thinking about the catalogs.” He does say, however, that “I don’t see any major changes in our approach to them or to their circulation.”

The company’s financial travails aren’t preventing it from expanding its e-commerce efforts. Later this year Casual Male plans to launch a Website, BigandTallFactoryStore.com. A value-oriented retail chain, Big and Tall Factory Store also produces a clearance flier that is folded into the Casual Male catalog, but the company has no plans to spin it off as a freestanding title. The company already operates the CasualMale.com and ReppBigandTall.com Websites.

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