Eastern Mountain Sports, Bob's Stores Owner Files for Bankruptcy; 4 Local Stores to Close

Four New England stores are slated for closure

The Connecticut-based owner of Eastern Mountain Sports, Bob's Stores and Sport Chalet has filed for bankruptcy.

Vestis Retail Group announced the bankruptcy filing on Monday. It also announced that it will be closing eight EMS locations, including stores in Foxborough, Massachusetts, Warwick, Rhode Island, and West Hartford, Connecticut, and a Bob's store in South Portland, Maine.

About 50 Sport Chalet locations in California, Arizona, Nevada and Utah are also shutting down. The company said its stores will remain open for several weeks, and customers can use any outstanding gift cards, rewards certificates or store credits through April 29. After that, they can transfer any balances to remaining EMS or Bob's Stores locations.

Vestis acquired Sport Chalet in 2014 for about $17 million. Sport Chalet had about $52.5 million in debt at the time and hadn't turned a profit in years.

"When Vestis first acquired EMS and Sport Chalet, each company faced significant operational challenges and was on the verge of liquidation. We have made significant progress in stabilizing the businesses and improving overall performance across all our brands," said Mark Walsh, chief executive officer of Vestis. "As a result, EMS and Bob's are now delivering solid performance but have been burdened by limited financial flexibility due, in part, to the unique competitive pressures facing Sport Chalet. After reviewing a variety of strategic alternatives, we determined that the best path forward is to separate the businesses and confront the challenges that have been hindering our overall progress. We are confident EMS and Bob's will be well-positioned to thrive at the conclusion of the process."

As part of the bankruptcy proceedings, Vestis also sold EMS and Bob's Stores to Versal Capital Management. The sale is expected to be completed in mid-summer.

Versa's existing portfolio includes Avenue Stores, The Wet Seal, Polartec and Black Angus Steakhouses.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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