(Bloomberg)—Dean & DeLuca, the gourmet grocer whose trend-setting New York store introduced Americans to international delicacies more than four decades ago, has shut its flagship location in Manhattan.
The SoHo closing is temporary, according to a notice posted on the door, which said the store will reopen soon. While the lights were on, and shelves and containers and espresso machines were still in place, there was mostly no food or products.
The chain has been struggling to hold on amid stalling sales and a cutthroat competitive landscape, and suppliers have gone to court over unpaid bills. Some shelves at the main store were bare in recent weeks, and some other U.S. locations have been shuttered.
Attempts to reach Dean & DeLuca’s Bangkok-based owner, Pace Development Corp., outside of regular business hours weren’t immediately successful. The Gothamist reported earlier on the closing.
Dozens of shoppers came to the door of the Manhattan store during a 20-minute span and wound up looking dumbfounded as they read the notice. Someone had scrawled “So Sad!” above the sign.
Dean & DeLuca’s pioneering business model helped create a cohort of upscale gourmets, but now those same consumers are being targeted by bigger rivals with deeper pockets. Items that once were hard to get are now readily available from massive chains such as Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods and its online parent, Amazon.com Inc.
Pace has acknowledged that the situation has worsened in recent months, forcing a delay in payments to some suppliers. Sorapoj Techakraisri, Pace’s chief executive officer, has said U.S. operations are being reorganized and that the company will improve the flagship store.
Pace said it bought Dean & DeLuca for $140 million in 2014. The deal included licensing agreements in 31 international locations including Thailand, Singapore and South Korea.
--With assistance from Caleb Mutua.
To contact the reporter on this story: Elizabeth Rembert in New York at [email protected].
To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rick Green at [email protected]
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