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Sacino & Sons formal wear chain files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection

Sacino & Sons, a family-owned formal wear chain that's been a familiar name for generations of prom-, wedding- and quinceanera-goers across Florida, on Friday filed for Chapter 11 protection from creditors in U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

The 93-year-old St. Petersburg chain, which rents and sells formal wear and business attire through a network of 15 locations, employs 130 at its stores and its St. Petersburg dry cleaning plant. The family also owns a restoration business that is not part of the bankruptcy filing.

"What had been a challenging business climate quickly turned incredibly difficult after the stock market collapse last fall," said Ron Sacino, the chief executive officer, who shares ownership with his brother Greg and business partner Dan Santucci. "We're a discretionary product, and people lost confidence (in the economy). We hope this filing gives us breathing room to survive at least another seven years to reach our 100th anniversary."

They are the third generation to run the company, founded by their grandfather in 1916.

The competitive landscape changed after Men's Wearhouse acquired the 500-store After Hours Formalwear chain and started renting tuxedos from its men's apparel stores. In the meantime, retailers such as JCPenney started selling tuxes for not much more than the cost of a rental set that comes with a shirt, a tie and shoes.

Sacino reported assets of $100,000 to $500,000 and liabilities of $1 million to $10 million. Among the creditors are Sacino family members who loaned the company $1.26 million.

At its peak in 2004, Sacino had 26 stores as far south as Miami, half of them in high-rent regional malls. The company has been getting out of malls and shedding marginal stores since then, including four stores over the past two weeks in Clearwater, Miami and Tampa. Sacino said three more may close as the company further contracts the boundaries of its operations out of southwest Florida. Part of the strategy includes finding less expensive rental space, as it did recently by moving its Tallahassee store back to its original location.

"Many of our landlords were unwilling to budge from charging their highest rents, which drained our cash," Sacino said. "This filing will allow us the latitude to renegotiate some leases and price them more in line with today's economy."

Mark Albright can be reached at albright@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8252.

Sacino & Sons formal wear chain files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection 08/28/09 [Last modified: Friday, August 28, 2009 9:34pm]
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