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Poll: Retail could push bankruptcies to rise

Although businesses seeking Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection has fallen steadily in recent years, almost half of restructuring professionals believe bankruptcies could increase in 2015, led in part by retailers impacted by e-commerce competitors.

The poll, conducted by Alix Partners during December, revealed that 47% of restructuring professionals expect bankruptcies would increase this year, with another 31% expecting no change from 2014.  Just 22% said they expected bankruptcies would decrease.

The number of Chapter 11 filings has fallen by 50% since 2009, Alix noted.

Asked to identify U.S. industries under the most distress in 2015, poll respondents identified energy (79%), followed by retail (52%). Worldwide, retail ranked third behind the energy and maritime fields among those likely to face distress in 2015.

Dahl's Foods and Associated Wholesalers Inc. are among recent Chapter 11 cases in food retail.

“Retail is an industry that is always seen as ripe for restructuring — due to evolving consumer preferences and other factors — but a recent major driving factor has been the rise of e-commerce, which continues to put pressure on traditional brick-and-mortar retailers,” Alix said.

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