Bebe Hires Firm to Chart New Course

Retail

As of Thursday, March 23, 2017

After speculation that Bebe Stores Inc. might shutter all its locations and concentrate on e-commerce, the California retailer announced it hired B. Riley & Co. to help “explore strategic alternatives.”

The San Francisco Bay Area–based women’s contemporary retailer also announced it is working with an unnamed real estate adviser to look for “options” with its lease holdings. Currently, Bebe operates a fleet of 137 stores compared to 300 stores in 2008.

According to a March 21 Bloomberg story citing unnamed sources, Bebe is planning to emerge as an e-commerce retailer. Bebe did not respond to a California Apparel News email requesting comment.

In recent years, Bebe has been weathering some tough financial times. It had net losses for fiscal 2014, 2015 and 2016, and same-store sales have been in negative territory for years.

The last time the retailer posted positive comps was for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2015, when same-store sales inched up 1.1 percent.

Shortly after the uptick, Bebe founder Manny Mashouf rejoined the retailer in February 2016 as its chief executive officer. He soon announced a 14.6 percent job cut in the company’s design, merchandising and production division. He said the drastic cuts were necessary to save the company. “We recognize that the overall macro environment has not been favorable to retailers in general, which is why we are taking steps that we believe are necessary to position the business for long-term success,” he said in a statement.

This last holiday season, business was tough for Bebe. For the second quarter of fiscal 2017, ending Dec. 31, 2016, net sales were $101.9 million with a net loss of $5.23 million. For the same period one year earlier, net sales were $122.4 million with a net loss of $5.45 million.