Gift Basket King Files For Bankruptcy Protection
STEVE INSKEEP, host:
A company in Oregon famous for selling gift baskets has declared bankruptcy. But Harry and David will continue delivering its famous pears and candies.
As NPR's Jeff Brady reports, the company's creditors have agreed to forgive some of its debt so that Harry and David can stay in business.
JEFF BRADY: It's been a tough few years for Harry and David. As the economy soured, a lot of those lucrative holiday gift orders from businesses disappeared. On top of that, the company was carrying a heavy debt load, and the balance sheet just wasn't sustainable anymore.
Southern Oregon University Marketing Professor Chuck Jaeger says Harry and David still has a solid, well-known brand, though, and he predicts bankruptcy will help it survive.
Professor CHUCK JAEGER (Southern Oregon University): I think this is going to be a breath of fresh air, going to be an opportunity for them to sit back and say now we can go back to what we do best without having to worry about servicing all that debt.
BRADY: The company's largest creditor is Wells Fargo Bank, which it owes $198 million dollars. Based in Medford, Oregon, Harry and David is one of the largest employers in that town. Bob Hunter is editor at the local newspaper, the Mail Tribune.
Mr. BOB HUNTER (Editor, Mail Tribune): Everybody is just kind of on pins and needles waiting to see what happens with it and keeping their fingers crossed that it will be successful because it's - it would be a huge blow if it went away.
BRADY: Leading up to the bankruptcy, Harry and David closed 52 of its retail stores around the country. In a statement, the company says 70 other stores will remain open.
Jeff Brady, NPR News.
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