Jennifer Convertibles closing N.C. stores

Staff WriterJuly 20, 2010 

  • Jennifer Convertibles will honor customers' orders, said Martin Ehrlich, the company's vice president of customer service and quality control. Since 2007, the state attorney general's office has received four complaints about the company for problems such as nondelivery, pricing and defective merchandise, spokeswoman Noelle Talley said. No complaints have been filed yet in relation to Monday's announcement.

    If a store you've done business with closes before you get your merchandise, you may:

    Take the business to small claims court, if the money owed is less than $5,000 and if the business has not filed for bankruptcy.

    File a claim with the bankruptcy court once the business files for bankruptcy to try to get what you're owed. Filing a claim does not guarantee that you will get your money back.

    Try contacting the owner, if a store closes with something of yours inside, such as an appliance brought in for repair or a pre-paid special order. If that doesn't work, you should contact local law enforcement or consider small claims court.

    Before you buy

    Avoid paying for services more than a year in advance.

    Pay the smallest deposit possible, if you're asked to put down a deposit for products or services you won't receive until later.

    Pay by credit card to increase your chances of being able to get your money back. (If a business that you paid by credit card closes, contact your credit card company as soon as possible and request a "chargeback.")

    Source: North Carolina Attorney General

On Monday, Jennifer Convertibles announced that it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and will reorganize, adding the furniture store to the growing list of retailers using bankruptcy to try to survive the current financial climate.

CEO Harley Greenfield told trade publication Furniture Today that the company will close all of its stores in North Carolina, Florida and Michigan, as well as Philadelphia, Atlanta, Chicago and Boston.

All orders placed by customers will be honored, said Martin Ehrlich, Jennifer's vice president of customer service and quality control.

"All sales will be honored," he said.

"If customers have arranged a delivery date," he said, "it will be delivered on time. If they have ordered something but not yet arranged a delivery date, we will honor their order."

In North Carolina, the company has four show rooms in Cary, Durham, Greensboro and Siler City. In Siler City, the company also operates a distribution center, which is also closing.

Ehrlich said he could not provide details about the number of employees in North Carolina who will lose their jobs or the timeline for the store closures.

Jack Meadows, director of planning and communitydevelopment for Siler City, said the number of employees at the distribution center has dwindled from 55 to 26.

In its New York state bankruptcy filing, the company said that it was forced to seek protection because of "substantial losses" that limited its liquidity.

The filing also said that the company was unable to obtain additional financing.

In April, the company reported that sales at stores open at least a year - an important measure of health for a retailer - declined by 2.7 percent in the second quarter. It also reported that its loss for the year had increased from $2.3 million to $6.4 million.

It is the nation's largest retailer of specialty sofa beds both in sales and in the number of stores.

In May, Furniture Today ranked the company number 48 on its list of the top 100 U.S. furniture retailers, with sales of $114 million for the fiscal year ended Aug. 29. But that figure was down 22.4 percent from the year before.

Greenfield said in a statement that the company has negotiated new deals with suppliers to help bolster the company's finances during the restructuring.

"I am confident that we will emerge as a stronger organization," he said.

sue.stock@newsobserver.com or 919-829-4649

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