Mandee owner blames Sandy for bankruptcy

Big M, which operates the Mandee and Annie Sez clothing stores, says insurance companies aren't paying up for storm-related damages.

By Aimee Picchi Jan 8, 2013 2:31PM

Image: Insurance - NULL/CorbisSuperstorm Sandy was bad enough, forcing Big M to close many of its Mandee and Annie Sez stores for a week. But the aftermath -- with Big M alleging its insurers dragged their feet on paying claims -- has added to the company's woes.

Alan Mandelbaum, the chief executive of Big M, tells the New York Post that the company, which declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Monday, "wouldn't be in this position" if its carriers, which weren't named, had paid claims on a timely basis. 

The company will keep its 129 stores open while it reorganizes -- and continues to seek claims for storm-related damages of more than $6 million, the Post notes. Big M doesn't have immediate plans to eliminate jobs. 

The Oct. 29 storm came at a sensitive time for Big M, with the company at the tail end of a 2011 restructuring, according to Bloomberg. 

"We're very disappointed. We were making significant progress," Mandelbaum told the Post. The company was on track to make a $1.9 million profit in 2012, compared with an $8 million loss in 2011, before the hurricane hit the New York region. 

Big M isn't the only retailer to feel the effects of Superstorm Sandy. Many stores reported a drop in sales because of closings, slower business because of damage and lack of employees, according to the Census Bureau

The company, which was founded by Leon, Max and Bernard Mandelbaum after they returned from World War II, remains a family business, notes Reuters.

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