Sporting Goods Sector Under Siege: MC Sports the Latest to File Bankruptcy

Oh, to be a sporting goods retailer in these turbulent times.

Michigan-based sporting goods seller MC Sports today became the latest such firm to file for Chapter 11 protection.

In a voluntary bankruptcy petition submitted in court in Michigan on Tuesday, the company said its current assets — valued at between $50 million and $100 million — are equal to its liabilities.

After a valiant and concerted effort by MC Sports’ associates, vendors, landlords and outside professionals to restructure the company’s balance sheet and operating performance, the company was unable to reach an agreement on a viable out-of-court proposal,” MC Sports president and CEO Bruce Ullery said in the statement.

The firm plans to liquidate all 68 of its stores, located across seven Midwest states.

MC Sports joins a growing list of sporting goods firms that have caved to hefty real estate costs, intense e-commerce competition and consumer shifts over the past 18 months.

Still, the uptick in sporting goods bankruptcies has baffled some experts who say that despite a few macroeconomic issues and some digital swings, companies that sell products for a healthy and active lifestyle should be benefiting from current trends, which favor both healthy living and casual style.

Last year, once a leading retailer in the space, Sports Authority sent shock waves through the industry when it went belly up. Its bankruptcy filing followed City Sports in October 2015. A Chapter 11 filing for Vestis Retail Group — owner of Eastern Mountain Sports, Sport Chalet and Bob’s Stores — came in April 2016.

The current year ushered in another wave, with Dallas-based running and fitness store Luke’s Locker seeking bankruptcy protection in January and MC Sports joining the firm only two weeks later. After Vestis filed Chapter 11 last year, it shuttered the Sport Chalet business and sold off the EMS and Bob’s Stores business to its parent firm, which launched Eastern Outfitters as an entity to house both retailers. That entity also filed for bankruptcy on Feb. 5.

While the sporting goods sector certainly has a high concentration of retail bankruptcies, other retailers have seen a similar fate in recent months.

Teen mall staples Aéropostale Inc. and Pacific Sunwear of California Inc. — doing business as PacSun — also sought Chapter 11 last year while Wet Seal closed all of its stores and added its name to the bankruptcy court docket in February. (Aéropostale and PacSun were able to restructure and emerge from the bankruptcy process with a leaner store count and the ability to forge ahead with their operations.)

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