Block Corp. declares bankruptcy

TUPELO – Block Corp, which licenses brands like Izod, Panama Jack, Van Heusen and John Deere, filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection late last week.
The garment company is headquartered in Tupelo and has a sales and executive office on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.
In documents filed with the bankruptcy court in Manhattan on Thursday, the company listed assets of $32 million and debt of $44.6 million.
Its assets include $248 in a Renasant Bank account and a $1.1 million claim for a former distribution center in Amory. In 2000, Block bought Amory Garment Co. Block consolidated its operations to Tupelo in 2005.
Tax bills
Block in the filings also said it owes $184,125.78 in taxes to Lee County, Monroe County, the city of Amory and the Mississippi State Tax Commission.
The company’s board of directors voted April 4 to file for bankruptcy “after considering the current financial circumstances of the company, including the currently existing downturn affecting the retail industry that composes the primary customer base of the company.” The directors also said in the filing that restrictions from lenders and creditors figured into their decision to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
Under U.S. bankruptcy rules, Chapter 7 bankruptcies typically result in liquidation or a sale of assets, rather than reorganization under Chapter 11.
The news comes after Block in January laid off about 120 distribution and warehouse workers or half its work force at its headquarters in Tupelo.
December layoffs
When the layoffs were announced in December, Jim Beisel, the senior vice president of operations, said about 100 workers would remain on the payrolls. Also, Beisel said the Block retail store would remain open.
Beisel was unavailable Tuesday to discuss the most recent impact on employees.
Block listed about 200 employees as unsecured creditors with priority claims within the past six months. In the document, Block said it estimates that, after any exempt property is excluded and administrative expenses paid, there will be no funds available for unsecured creditors.
According to Crains New York Business, Block reported gross sales in 2008 of $104.5 million, a 12 percent drop from the previous year, and year-to-date gross sales of about $12.4 million.

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Carlie Kollath/NEMS Daily Journal