Joe’s Jeans Gets a Little Help From Its Creditors

Joe’s Jeans got a lifeline when two major creditors gave the Los Angeles blue-jeans manufacturer some more time to pay off some hefty loans—for a price.

In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the financially strapped company said on June 26 it received “forbearance agreements” from Garrison Loan Agency, owed nearly $60 million, and from CIT Group. Joe’s owes CIT $24 million.

The extensions give the apparel company some breathing room until Oct. 15, with a possible extension to Nov. 15.

That might be enough time for Joe’s Jeans to negotiate selling the company or find additional financing, which is necessary to keep it from filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

But the extension agreements come at a cost. CIT will receive $450,000 in forbearance fees on Oct. 15, and on the same date Garrison will get a payment of 1.35 percent of the balance on the term loan. If extended to Nov. 15, CIT will receive an additional $125,000 and Garrison a payment of 0.25 percent of the term-loan balance.

“No matter what goes on, it buys them more time,” said Jeffrey Van Sinderen, a retail analyst with B. Riley & Co., which used to cover Joe’s Jeans but dropped coverage in February. “With no re-fi deal reached and no suitor for the company having emerged, we do not see the company continuing to operate in its current form. It appears that some sort of restructuring will be necessary,” Van Sinderen wrote in a Feb. 17 report.

That same month, Joe’s Jeans hired Carl Marks Advisory Group in New York to help its board of directors explore strategic and financing alternatives to resolve its financial problems after it defaulted on its loans in November.

Recent reports had the company negotiating some kind of deal with Tengram Capital Partners, whose co-founder William Sweedler is a former president and chief executive of Joe Boxer. Negotiations reportedly were centered around a purchase price of under $100 million.

“If there weren’t something brewing, they probably wouldn’t have gotten a forbearance,” said one financial observer.

Joe’s Jeans took on major debt when it acquired one of its rivals, Hudson Clothing Inc., in 2013 for $97.6 million. The Garrison loan was used for part of that purchase. But the acquisition has mired the company in steep debt and contributed to its growing net losses.

On Nov. 6, Joe’s Jeans received a notice that it was in default of the Garrison and CIT loans for violating certain covenants of the loan. Those covenants were that the company’s minimum EBITDA, or earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, for the 12-month period ending Nov. 30 had to be at least $23.4 million.

With the loan default, the company’s auditors, Moss Adams, said it was worried the company didn’t have enough funds to stay in business.

That was highlighted by the company’s first-quarter earnings ending Feb. 28, when Joe’s Jeans lost $21.6 million on $43 million in revenues. During the same period last year, it lost $2.1 million on $47.3 million in revenues.

For the fiscal year ending Nov. 30, 2014, the company lost $27.2 million on $188.75 million.

With the company in financial trouble, Joe’s chief executive, Marc Crossman, left the company in January. He was replaced by interim CEO Sam J. Furrow Jr., who lasted less than a month. He stepped down and was replaced by his father, Sam J. Furrow Sr., who is the chairman of the Joe’s Jeans board.

Adding to the turmoil, Peter Kim, who founded Los Angeles–based Hudson Clothing Co. in 2002 and is still its chief executive, resigned from the Joe’s board of directors in February and was trying to find financing to buy his company back.

Joe’s stock, which trades on the NASDAQ, has nosedived. It is selling for around 21 cents a share. Its 52-week high was $1.28 on July 11, 2014.

With 69.8 million shares outstanding, the company’s market cap is close to $15 million.

Joe’s Jeans are sold in high-end department stores, and the company has 13 full-price retail stores and 20 outlet stores.