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Century-old apparel maker Renown files for bankruptcy

Coronavirus becomes final straw for Chinese-owned company

Apparel company Renown filed for bankruptcy protection on May 15 in Tokyo.

TOKYO-- Century-old apparel maker Renown said it entered bankruptcy proceedings Friday, becoming the first Japan-listed company to enter legal reorganization during the coronavirus pandemic.

Once one of the world's biggest apparel makers, the company has seen its revenue nearly cut off as department stores and retailers have shut their doors.

Nikkei reported earlier that Renown's filing Friday with the Tokyo District Court under the Civil Rehabilitation Law was approved the same day. The filing lists 13.9 billion yen ($130 million) in liabilities.

The company, which is majority owned by China's Shandong Ruyi, is expected to take about a month to select a turnaround sponsor. Its shares are likely to be delisted from the Tokyo Stock Exchange's first section.

Founded in 1902, Tokyo-based Renown is known for its D'urban and Arnold Palmer brands. It reached the peak of its scale in the 1990s but slipped into decline, hurt by the apparel industry's shift to online sales from department stores and other brick-and-mortar shops. 

Renown merged operations with D'urban in 2004. In 2010, it welcomed Ruyi, a Chinese group spanning textiles to apparel, as an investor. Ruyi brought brands including Aquascutum, which had previously been owned by Renown.

Renown suffered a 6.7 billion yen net loss in the year to December. It had made around 5.7 billion yen in provisions against losses on funds owed by the Ruyi group.

At the March meeting of general shareholders, Ruyi opposed the reappointment of the president and chairman at the time, who both stepped down.

Renown is not the only struggling apparel company to have succumbed to the coronavirus pandemic. In the U.S., J.Crew filed for bankruptcy protection last month.

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