Clothing chain Love Culture files for bankruptcy, may be sold

July 16 Wed Jul 16, 2014 3:53pm EDT

July 16 (Reuters) - Love Culture Inc on Wednesday filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and said it is up for sale, becoming the latest women's apparel retailer to seek protection from creditors.

The company, which according to its website has 82 stores stretching from Massachusetts to Hawaii, joins Ashley Stewart Holdings Inc, Coldwater Creek Inc, Dots LLC and Loehmann's Inc among retailers to file for bankruptcy since late last year as consumers curb spending.

Love Culture said it plans during the bankruptcy process to close money-losing stores, restructure its debt and investigate options "including a possible sale of substantially all of its assets as a going concern."

It said "several financial and strategic buyers" have expressed interest in the company.

Founded in 2007 by former Forever 21 executives Jai Rhee and Bennett Koo, Love Culture is aimed at women in the 18-to-35 age range. It opened an online store in 2010 and started the more upscale brand Boutique Culture in 2012.

The company said it began experiencing financial difficulties in 2012 during its expansion, and that the cost of upgrading its technology affected cash flow.

In a petition filed with the U.S. bankruptcy court in Newark, New Jersey, Love Culture said it has as much as $50 million in both assets and liabilities.

Net sales totaled $162.4 million in the year ended Feb. 1, 2014, it said in a court filing. Four of its stores are in New Jersey.

Love Culture's advisers include PricewaterhouseCoopers LLC and the law firm Lowenstein Sandler.

The case is In re: Love Culture Inc, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of New Jersey, No. 14-bk-24508. (Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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