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Forever 21 faces Chapter 11 - data tracks the fashion retailer's decline

3 months ago by Jon Marino in Facts, News

Forever 21 ($FOREVER21) may not be long for this earth, as it turns out. 

A Wall St. Journal report said the company will hire restructuring advisers as it seems to avoid a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing. The fashion retailer, privately-held by bootstrapped immigrants Do Won Chang and his wife Jin Sook Chang, has already sold off its headquarters. It exited businesses in China and India as well. 

Hiring a restructuring adviser is not necessarily a guaranteed sign of bankruptcy —  but the data for Forever 21 highlights a brand that rode malls' popularity throughout the 80s and 90s and failed to make the transition to the age of e-commerce. 

Forever 21's Explosive Growth

Launched in 1985, Forever 21 stores began in California where Do Won Chang and Jin Sook first moved to when they came to the US. From there, the chain expanded like wildfire, in part on their ability to plug their stores into malls. As e-commerce has taken hold with a growing consumer set — particularly, those upon which Forever 21 is dependent upon — the company has had to scale back some of its growth ambitions. 

Social Slide

We have an opportunity to track social media sentiment for Forever 21 stores via Facebook ($NASDAQ:FB) Talking About Count, or how many mentions on social a brand garners. In the case of Forever 21, the chart reflects its relevance on Facebook - how many times it is mentioned - has been on the decline for a while now. 

Job Posting Slowdown

Job postings from Forever 21 have already declined nearly 14% this year, according to our data. Many businesses that latched onto new growth strategies have continued hiring in an already busy job market.

However, seeing the company cut job postings may reflect the new normal at Forever 21, where it is downsizing from certain regions, or could be a sign of further footprint reduction ahead. For now, at least, it looks like job postings are on the upswing after bottoming out earlier in the year. 

About the Data:

Thinknum tracks companies using information they post online - jobs, social and web traffic, product sales and app ratings - and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales. 

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Jon Marino

Jon Marino is Thinknum's finance editor, covering the impacts of alternative data on public companies and investors. Prior to joining Thinknum, Jon worked in the ...

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