First Post-Christmas Victim: Christian Bernard Jewelers

Some thoughts on the liquidation of Christian Bernard Jewelers:

– It’s interesting the chain, whose web site is still up as I write this, didn’t even bother going Chapter 11, but went straight to Chapter 7. This is likely because: a) with the credit crunch, it’s harder to get DIP financing, and b) with the change in the bankruptcy laws, it’s far more difficult for retailers in Chapter 11 to truly reorganize themselves. A Wall Street Journal article this week notes that “only two retailers have successfully emerged from bankruptcy proceedings since the amendments to the [bankrutpcy] code were passed.”

– The way this company suddenly closed up shop has to be scary for anyone who has a job, buys jewelry, or has any kind of dealings with a jewelry retailer. 

It seems the company just closed the day after Christmas, leaving a lot of people to wonder what just happened. Here is a Hartford, Connecticut’s TV station’s account:

Christian Bernard Jewelers’ two Connecticut locations seems to have shut their doors without any notice…

The gold necklaces are still draped in the window at the Christian Bernard jewelry store in Westfarms Mall. The other inventory, still prominently displayed on the shelves. But on the door, a sign that reads simply, “Will not open Today.” …

Both Westfarms Mall and the Stamford Mall tell us, they were given no advance notice this would happen and no information about what will happen now.

The story goes on to note:

While there’s no set rules for when and how a company can close up shop, under the Unfair Trade Practices Act a company cannot deceive or make promises to customers knowing they’re going out of business.

The Attorney General’s Office says they’re looking into the situation with Christian Bernard. Without so much as a heads up, consumers are suddenly left high and dry. 

There is a similar mention of abruptly closing Christian Bernards in this Virginia newspaper, and this newspaper in Stamford, Conn.  

– One final thought: With Friedman’s, Whitehall, Four Points (which went Chapter 11 last year), and now Christian Bernard, that makes at least four jewelry chains that liquidated this year. Quite a year.

UPDATE: This is a disturbing comment we got on our news story …

“What happens to customers who had items in for repair, and special orders placed before the holidays? … My fiance and I, who just bought wedding bands, and have her engagement ring in to Christian Bernard for resizing, are very nervous!” 

Any ideas?

UPDATE 2: My talk with the bankruptcy trustee.

JCK News Director