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David's Bridal CEO on emerging from bankruptcy

Illustration of a gavel on top of a wedding cake.

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser / Axios

David's Bridal earlier this week filed a motion in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New Jersey to have its Chapter 11 case dismissed.

Why it matters: The wedding and formal wear retailer avoided liquidation and is on the verge of emerging from its second bankruptcy within the last five years.

  • It also delivered all the dresses that brides ordered during its bankruptcy restructuring process, CEO Jim Marcum tells Axios.

What's happening: After closing a sale on July 21 to Cion Investment Corp. (NYSE: CION), there are no assets left to distribute to creditors, per court filings.

What's next: A hearing on the motion is set for Aug. 29.

Catch up fast: The company conducted a going-concern auction process in an effort to find a buyer that would preserve the business.

  • Ultimately, Cion injected $20 million in the business to fund growth.

Details: The slimmed-down version of David's Bridal will have 195 stores and 7,000 employees, versus 295 locations and 10,000 employees before the bankruptcy, Marcum says.

  • He says its term debt was reduced to approximately $42 million, from about $218 million.
  • Bank of America, which is providing the company with a $50 million revolving credit line, took $20 million worth of borrowings on the retailer's ABL and rolled that into a $20 million term loan facility, Marcum says.
  • Those 195 stores generated about 90% of David's Bridal's EBITDA, he adds.

Of note: Cion is taking a long-term view on its hold and does not have a 12- to 24-month exit timeline, Marcum says.

What they're saying: The retailer will spend the next few months ensuring customers know it's still in business — and preparing for wedding season, which runs January through May, Marcum says.

  • As a result, he expects the company to return to growth next year.
  • There will be a renewed focus on the company's digital or omnichannel efforts, particularly Pearl, the new wedding planning platform and marketplace launched in January.
  • It also plans to add partnerships, which it is holding discussions on now and could include shop-in-shops.
  • It already has one with Men's Wearhouse, which provides men with tuxedos.

Zoom in: The opening price point for a wedding dress at the company is $199 and goes as high as $2,000, though the average bridal dress sells for $600, Marcum says.

  • Because David's Bridal is vertically integrated, both manufacturing and owning all of its own brands, it can pass those savings on to customers, he says.
  • That also helps keep the retailer on top of trends, such as the casualization of weddings.

The bottom line: "David's is back," Marcum says, adding, "Weddings are not going away."

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to note Cion invested $20 million to fund growth. It did not swap debt for equity.

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