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Brides-to-be in panic as Alfred Angelo Bridal closes stores, files for bankruptcy

DELRAY BEACH —In a business collapse that disrupted wedding plans nationwide, Alfred Angelo Bridal filed to liquidate its operations in bankruptcy court in West Palm Beach Friday after failing to find a buyer for the company.

A lawyer for a Miami law firm retained to manage the case said she will work with a court-appointed trustee to release bridal dresses being held by the stores, which closed Thursday. The shutdown left brides-to-be across the country locked out and with little information about their time-sensitive purchases.

Patricia Redmond of Stearns Weaver Miller, Weissler Alhadoff & Sitterson, said in a telephone interview she had received more than 3,500 emails from panicked brides.

Yadira Castro, 27, was one of the brides seeking answers. Standing outside Alfred Angelo's Boynton Beach store on Friday, she was desperate to learn about her wedding dress. Her wedding is a week from Saturday.

"I don't have the money to buy a new dress. I have no time to buy a new dress," said Castro, showing a picture of the Disney character Jasmine-inspired dress she had purchased from Alfred Angelo for more than $800. With veil and accessories, she has nearly $1,250 invested in wedding attire at the store, she said.

Castro is among countless brides and bridesmaids who are scrambling after the Delray Beach-based wedding dress company closed its doors. There were reports from multiple cities of brides appearing at stores to pick up their wedding gowns, only to find the locations closed.

Redmond said she will ask a court-appointed trustee for the case to release dresses being held in the stores awaiting pickup by brides-to-be, and will do her best to persuade the trustee to release a $1.2 million shipment coming from China, so brides can receive the dresses they ordered.

The Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing, which is voluntary, lists assets of $50,000 or less for Alfred Angelo. Redmond said that's because the company kept little inventory, mostly ordering dresses for brides. Top creditors are Czech Asset Management of Connecticut, a portfolio company, for $54 million; and CardConnect, a credit card processor for up to $5 million, Redmond said. After that, there will likely be dress manufacturers in China filing claims, she said.

Alfred Angelo's board met July 10 to "take whatever steps necessary with respect to its financial condition" and to retain Stearns Weaver Miller, the court document shows.

The retailer operated at least 60 stores in the U.S., and maintained others in Canada, Europe and Japan. Its dresses were placed with 1,400 retailers worldwide.

Alfred Angelo Bridal was started more than 80 years ago by Alfred Angelo Piccione and Edythe Vincent Piccione, according to the corporate history on the company's website.

Alfred Angelo's current CEO is Richard Anders, named in 2016. He could not be reached for comment Friday. Anders previously was president of retail at Nautica, a brand of VF Corp., and held positions before that at J. Crew and Old Navy, according a January 2016 story in the Sun Sentinel. He joined Alfred Angelo in 2014.

In Coral Gables, bride-to-be Jessica Ringler whose Disney Belle dress, veil and belt were inside the store, stood outside the store Friday morning seeking any information. "It just sucks. I don't even understand what happened," said Ringler, 33, who ordered the $2,500 dress in March for her wedding in February. "It's beautiful … It was supposed to be my dream dress," she said.

Ringler said "it would have been nice if they had given some kind of heads up. Now I can't get my dress. This is somebody's future."

Alfred Angelo's store on Miracle Mile is a prime destination for brides-to-be, along with other bridal and wedding-related stores.

Nora Ares, an employee at nearby Bijou Bridal & Special Occasion store, said she would often refer customers to Alfred Angelo.

"You would never think that something so drastic would happen to a chain like that," she said. "It's going to be devastating for those brides."

Staff researcher Barbara Hijek contributed to this report, as did staff writers Susannah Bryan, Arlene Satchell and Anne Geggis. ©2017 Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale)

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