Rockport Group Files for Bankruptcy

Updated, May 16, 4 p.m.: Following The Rockport Group Co.,’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection filing on May 14, the company has received approvals from the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for Delaware for all of its first day motions, which will support its business operations as the company completes its court-supervised sale process.

The Newton, Mass.,-based company, home to the Aravon, Dunham, Rockport and Cobb Hill collections, has entered into an asset purchase agreement with CB Marathon Opco LLC, an affiliate of Charlesbank Equity Fund IX LP, which — upon closing and court approval — will see Charlesbank acquire virtually all of Rockport’s assets. The move will allow the company to focus on its global wholesale, independent and e-commerce operations, the group said in a release.

To facilitate the sale, Rockport and its U.S. and Canadian subsidiaries today filed voluntary petitions under Chapter 11 in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for Delaware. The transaction is being undertaken pursuant to Section 363 of the U.S. bankruptcy code. Charlesbank will serve as the stalking-horse bidder in a court-supervised sale process. The agreement is subject to higher and better offers, among other conditions.

The agreement with Charlesbank includes Rockport’s global wholesale assets, e-commerce platform and retail operations in Asia and Europe. In addition, Charlesbank will have the opportunity to evaluate Rockport’s North American retail operations and determine whether it will pursue acquisition of certain of these locations. Rockport is seeking court authorization to close the North American retail stores not acquired by Charlesbank or another party.

Throughout the process, customers can continue to shop the brand at department and specialty stores globally, as well as through its e-commerce platform and select retail locations. To do so, Rockport has obtained $20 million in new-money debtor-in-possession financing from existing noteholders in addition to its existing $60 million credit facility. It has also filed a series of first-day motions seeking authorization to pay employee wages and benefits, honor customer commitments and manage day-to-day operations through the sale process.

The company expects to pay for all goods and services delivered on or after May 14. Payments for good and services prior to the filing will be addressed through Chapter 11. Charlesbank will assume responsibility for  payment of certain pre-petition obligations to product suppliers of the acquired assets.

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