Neiman Marcus - a Symbol of Luxury

March 2019, the luxury retailer Neiman Marcus opened its first outpost in Manhattan. Spread over three floors and 188,000 square feet, the store was an anchor tenant of the gleaming Hudson Yards development and, the company’s chief executive said, a new kind of “retail theater.” It boasted in-house aestheticians, live cooking and mixology demonstrations, and fitting rooms complete with interactive touch screens.

The executive, Geoffroy van Raemdonck, was about a year into the job and had already hired a slew of new executives, including a chief for the company’s other jewel in New York, Bergdorf Goodman. Each of the hires, he said in a late November interview with The New York Times, “have a passion for transforming our business.”

“They all believe that not only are we going to delight our customers by bringing to them unique and curated experiences, but they really believe that we are traveling a new course for how the retail industry and department store are transforming themselves,” Mr. van Raemdonck said.

On Thursday, all of that came to an abrupt halt when Neiman Marcus became the first major department store group to file for bankruptcy protection during the coronavirus pandemic. It’s a stunning fall that follows the collapse of Barneys New York late last year and comes as shadows gather over chains like Lord & Taylor and J.C. Penney.

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The company entered Chapter 11 restructuring proceedings in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas.

In a letter to customers, Mr. van Raemdonck emphasized that the business was not liquidating and that it planned to reopen stores once it was safe to do so.


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