May 19, 2020 / 3:28 PM / 7 days ago

Canada's Reitmans to seek bankruptcy protection as COVID-19 shuts stores

May 19 (Reuters) - Reitmans Canada Ltd will seek bankruptcy protection in a Québec court on Tuesday, becoming the latest retailer to face the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has led to prolonged store closures.

Reitmans, which was founded in 1926 and retails fashion apparel through 576 stores across Canada and online, said it would seek protection under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act, leading to an operational, commercial and financial restructuring.

“Filing for protection under the CCAA is truly the hardest decision we have had to make as an organization in our almost one hundred years of history, but this pandemic has left us no choice,” Chief Executive Officer Stephen Reitman said in a statement.

The company will remain open through its ecommerce websites while it restructures and all brick-and-mortar stores will re-open in line with government guidelines.

Reitmans’ application follows Aldo Group Inc, which began a court restructuring process earlier this month. It also falls on the day when select retailers and auto dealerships in Ontario opened their doors to customers after two months of lockdown.

Both sectors have been hard hit by the pandemic, with retailers around the world face unprecedented disruption and heavy debt piles brought on by the disease outbreak.

Earlier this month, U.S.-based J.C. Penney Co Inc filed for bankruptcy protection, following both luxury department store chain Neiman Marcus Group and clothing retailer J. Crew Group Inc.

Reitmans, whose brands include Penningtons, Addition Elle and Thyme Maternity, employs 6,800 people. (Reporting by Noor Zainab Hussain and Abhishek Manikandan in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel)

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