Ultra Diamonds Goes Chapter 11

Jewelry retail chain Ultra Stores filed for Chapter 11 Thursday, in a “pre-packaged” bankruptcy with its vendors and banks that it hopes to emerge from soon.

“We really do expect to go in and out of this in record speed because of the agreement the parties have reached,” said Kris Land, chief marketing officer of the Chicago-based company.

The company will close 12 of its 181 stores as part of the restructuring, Land said.

According to a petition accompanying the filing, Ultra said its sales decreased 10.8% for year ended February 1, 2009, including a decrease of 18.9% during the November –December 2008 period. The decline in Christmas sales, as well as a reduction in availability under its credit facility, created a liquidity shortage, Ultra said.

The company notes it has been taking steps to preserve cash, including a significant cut in executive compensation, an overall bonus reduction and a freeze of corporate wages. It also hired Consensus Advisors and Virtus Partners to assist in the restructuring of its bank debt. It also had to hold payments to trade and other unsecured creditors to preserve cash.

In March, it reached an agreement in principle with the creditors and lenders that led to the filing and reorganization.

Agreeing on the restructuring has “really been a very consensual and positive experience,” Land said. “We spent three months in detailed negotiations with the trade and the lenders. Hats off to everyone who worked on it.”

Ultra has procured a $30 million debtor-in-possession facility.

Ultra is the fourth jewelry chain to file for Chapter 11 this year, after Fortunoff, Shane, and Robbins Brothers.