Retailer True Religion Seeks Ch. 11 Rework Of $493M Debt

True Religion reaches milestone agreement with lenders

True Religion - the apparel brand known mostly for its signature-stitched denim - today filed for Chapter 11 protection in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware. Investment firm TowerBrook Capital Partners, which acquired True Religion for roughly $835 million in 2013, has also approved the company's plans.

John Ermatinger, president and C.E.O. of True Religion Apparel, comments, "After a careful review, we are taking an important step to reduce our debt, reinvigorate True Religion's iconic brand and position the company for future growth and success".

Founded in 2002 by Jeff Lubell, Manhattan Beach, Calif. -based True Religion has about 140 stores in 33 states and foreign markets and more than 1,900 employees.

Founded in 2002, True Religion grew popular with its array of pricey designer jeans, and from 2007 through 2012, it almost tripled in size, becoming a company with revenue of $490 million in 2013.

In court documents, True Religion has listed the estimated value of its assets at between $100 million and $500 million - the same estimated value of its liabilities.

In its announcement, True Religion said that through May it had year-to-date adjusted EBITDA of $7.1 million, up 95% compared with last year.

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That trend has accelerated in recent years with shoppers shifting from brick-and-mortar stores to e-commerce.

True Religion requested court permission to reject about 30 store leases, meaning those stores are likely set to close.

Reuters reports True Religion announced a restructuring agreement with a majority of its lenders Wednesday.

In its fiscal year that ended January 28, True Religion lost $78.5 million on revenue of $369.5 million. A deal with lenders will also allow the denim brand to cut its debt by 75%, or $350 million.

True Religion said its business had been undermined by discounts at other retailers, online competition and the athleisure trend, in which yoga trousers have become a substitute for jeans.

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