Stores that share names with bankrupt chains face PR nightmare

    “We’re not them.” That’s the message some retailers desperately try to communicate to customers, the media and business partners when companies with similar names face the threat of going out of business.

    Chains with past connections to recently bankrupt retailers like Sears and Gymboree, as USA Today reports, are learning this lesson the hard way. When Gymboree filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection for the first time in 2017, some customers, vendors and suppliers confused Gymboree Play & Music with the clothing retailer.

    Many thought the kids’ classes company was closing, even though it was actually expanding after Gymboree sold it off in 2016. Even telecommunications companies confused the two, shutting “off some people’s phones,” says Danny Softness, Gymboree Play & Music’s North America CEO.

    The type of publicity crisis facing Gymboree Play & Music could grow more common. In 2018, retailers announced more than 5,000 store closures covering about 147 million square feet of floor space, according to real-estate data firm CoStar Group.

    One of the latest soundalike victims is Sears Hometown and Outlet Stores, which was formerly part of Sears Holdings but spun off as its own publicly traded company in 2012. Read the full story.

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