Report: EMS to file bankuptcy

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 4/6/2016 7:59:54 PM

The fate of Eastern Mountain Sports’ operations in Peterborough is unclear, as the sportswear and equipment retailer’s parent company reportedly prepares bankruptcy filings.

Vestis Retail Group, which also oversees Bob’s Stores and Sport Chalet chains, may file bankruptcy papers next week, according to a Tuesday Bloomberg report. It will follow a number of other companies in the sporting goods industry that have filed for Chapter 11 in the past 12 months, according to published reports. 

Contacted through media relations contact Charles O. Dohrenwend, of The Abernathy MacGregor Group, Versa Capital Management LLC, which owns Vestis, declined to comment.

But Vestis released the following statement Wednesday: “Vestis continually looks for opportunities to position its stores for long-term growth and success and, as such, is evaluating a number of strategies to strengthen the business. We will share additional updates as and when decisions are made. Meanwhile, we continue to focus on executing our long-term strategic plan, and all our stores – Eastern Mountain Sports, Bob’s Stores and Sport Chalet – continue to operate as usual ...”

A filing for Chapter 11 signals a company reorganization, said L. Phillips Runyon III, of Runyon Law Office in Peterborough, whereas a Chapter 7 filing means a liquidation of assets, followed by going out of business. 

“[Chapter 11] helps them reduce their debt and continue operating,” Runyon explained.

Once a company files for Chapter 11, they have a period of time, usually several months, to submit a plan of reorganization, which could include closing certain stores and/or laying people off, Runyon noted. Creditors review the plan, and they may object to portions of it; utltimately, the court decides whether it’s a reasonable plan. 

EMS was sold to Philadelphia-based Versa in 2012, shortly after which EMS’s Peterborough workforce was cut in half, down to 110. EMS closed its distribution center. A year later, 41 more jobs were eliminated in Peterborough and other positions were relocated to Vestis’ corporate headquarters in Connecticut. The Peterborough retail store, call center and customer service center were left intact, with at least 45 employees, according to an EMS statement issued at the time.

”The EMS sale was a big blow to the community,” said Chub Whitten, of Juniper Advisory Services, LLC, in response to the news of the filings Wednesday, noting he couldn’t confirm the report. Juniper owns the Vose Farm Business Center in the same industrial park where EMS is located. 

The EMS building, including its warehouse and offices, at 1 Vose Farm Road has been for sale for more than a year. 

According to an EMS website promoting jobs with the company, jobs.jobvite.com/ems, EMS currently has 60 stores in operation: “As a member of the Vestis Retail Group Family and a trusted source of top-quality outdoor gear, apparel and advice, we operate over 60 locations in 12 northeastern states, as well as six Eastern Mountain Sports Schools, offering instruction in climbing, mountain biking and backcountry skiing.”




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