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The New York Times reports that specialty food chain Dean & DeLuca has announced that it will close three of its remaining nine US stores, “including a high-profile ‘concept’ store in downtown Manhattan that opened just three months ago.”

The story says that while the brand remains a successful global presence, with more than 60 stores around the world, the US operation has been foundering.

The Times writes that Dean & DeLuca, now owned by a Thai real estate company called Pace Development, “has developed all the signs of a company with debt problems: It pulled out of lease agreements; promised and revoked sponsorships; closed its stores in North Carolina, Kansas and Maryland; and has consistently withheld payment from vendors, who are increasingly vocal in their outrage … The company has also incurred large debts to industry suppliers like Imperial Dade, the Chefs’ Warehouse and Baldor, some of which are no longer extending credit to the chain at all.”

When Pace bought Dean & DeLuca in 2014 for $140 million, it had more than 40 stores in the US.
KC's View:
No doubt there have been an enormous number of factors that have gone into the steady and probably irreversible decline of one of the iconic names in specialty food retailing. But from everything I gather, the chief problem seems to be a lack of respect for the unique qualities of a respected brand. You cannot just buy a brand and depend on it to sustain itself - you have to nurture it, grow it, and find ways to expand it.

You can’t, as the Times writes, increasingly stock your stores with “Coca-Cola and Chobani yogurt instead of their craft-made equivalents.” Those are perfectly nice brands, but they don’t do a hell of a lot to differentiate your stores.