Sports Authority Files Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

The retailer plans to close 30% of its stores as it slims down to cope with increased competition and substantial debt.
Matthew HellerMarch 2, 2016

Sports Authority on Wednesday filed for bankruptcy protection and said it will close 30% of its stores, citing increased competition and a “substantial”debt burden.

Sports Authority CEO Michael Foss said the retail chain had identified approximately 140 of its 463 stores that “we intend to close or sell in the coming months.” No stores will be shut immediately and Sports Authority has secured a $595 million loan to keep it operating during the Chapter 11 bankruptcy process.

“We are taking this action so that we can continue to adapt our business to meet the changing dynamics in the retail industry,” Foss said in a news release. “We intend to use the Chapter 11 process to streamline and strengthen our business both operationally and financially so that we have the financial flexibility to continue to make necessary investments in our operations.”

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CFO Jeremy Aguilar said in court papers that Sports Authority had “recently accumulated substantial losses, primarily as a result of changing market trends, shifting sales from traditional brick and mortar retailers to a proliferation of online resellers” and that it is facing increased competition from other big-box retailers and specialty fitness chains.

In addition, he wrote, Sports Authority has “substantial debt obligations,” including more than $1.1 billion in funded debt.

“These headwinds and others have, over time, significantly limited [the company’s] prospects for future success absent a comprehensive restructuring” of its business operations and debt obligations,” Aguilar said.

Much of Sports Authority’s debt stems from a $1.3 billion leveraged buyout by Leonard Green & Partners in 2006. At that time, the chain was even with Dick’s Sporting Goods in sales but today, as Bloomberg reports, Dick’s “takes in almost twice as much per store, making it the U.S. leader in selling athletic gear, while [Sports Authority] has been hampered in its ability to expand or innovate.”

On Feb. 23, Moody’s downgraded the chain to Ca-PD/LD, effectively declaring it to be in default on $300 million worth of rated debt.

In addition to the retail closings, Sports Authority distribution centers in Denver and Chicago will be shut down or sold.