Geneva Watch Group Files Chapter 11

Geneva Watch Group, which produces licensed watches for brands such as Kenneth Cole, Tommy Bahama, and Ted Baker London, filed for Chapter 11 on Oct. 1 in New York federal court, with plans to sell its assets to an unnamed bidder.

The New York City–based company is also known as Advance Watch Co. and produces its own brands, Freestyle and Game Time. The latter markets licensed watches for professional sports leagues including the National Hockey League and National Football League.

According to a declaration filed by chief restructuring officer Jeff Gregg, the 41-year old company had in the last few years coped with a series of challenges, from a weak watch market to “physical threats” issued against management of its Far East office.

Gregg says the company saw steady growth from 2009 to 2012, when it posted gross revenue of $221 million. Profitability started declining in 2013, after the company lost two licenses—Betsey Johnson in 2010 and Dolce & Gabbana in 2013—as well as a favorable watch movement agreement in 2010.

In 2014 and 2015, the company incurred “significant losses,” Gregg says, due to “operational challenges, weakness in the domestic watch market, failed new product launches, and the failure to align overhead costs to regain profitability.”

In June 2015, corporate parent Binda became the subject of unrelated insolvency proceedings in Italy, further hampering the company’s liquidity and eventually forcing it to restructure.

The restructuring caused the termination of many senior employees—which hindered morale and company relationships—and an exit from its private-label low-end lines.

In June, the company’s Far East division’s management received “personal threats believed to be relate[d] to the past due amounts owed to…suppliers” and shut down operations, bottling up the company’s supply chain.

Geneva has identified an unnamed stalking horse bidder willing to purchase its assets but hopes that its bankruptcy filing will attract more interested parties. Its assets total around $41 million, its liabilities, $98 million. 

JCK News Director