Specialty goods retailer Brookstone, known for quirky products, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Thursday and plans to close all of its remaining mall-based stores. The company hired liquidators to close its roughly 100 remaining mall locations after declining foot traffic and management blunders crushed sales. The retailer has been bleeding cash as customers increasingly shop online for the types of the products it sells, such as high-tech blankets, headphones, travel pillows and exercise goods. Brookstone, which is owned by Chinese conglomerate Sanpower Group, plans to keep its 35 remaining airport stores open.
Total Retail's Take: It seems Brookstone's future existence hinges upon it finding a buyer. This is the second bankruptcy filing for the retailer in less than five years, and its outlook for a turnaround doesn't look very promising. The company has stopped mailing print catalogs, which has resulted in a decline in web traffic, and a recent technology systems change resulted in the loss of a substantial amount of customer data, according to Brookstone CFO Greg Tribou. Unable to invest back into the business, Brookstone has struggled to acquire new customers at a rate that would offset the loss of existing customers. Combine that with declining in-store traffic, a problem plaguing the industry, not just Brookstone, and you can see why the company's future is tenuous at best.