The United States division of Maclaren has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The manufacturer, known for its prestigious line of baby strollers, had its reputation as well as its bottom-line damaged when, in 2009, a million of its baby carriages were recalled after a reported 149 toddlers had their fingertips amputated or otherwise severely injured in the hinges of a foldable model. The company’s creditors include at least seven families whose children were injured and who have filed lawsuits.
The company, which has separate divisions in Europe and Asia, filed bankruptcy in Federal Bankruptcy Court in Connecticut at the end of December 2011; the announcement appeared on such popular parenting blogs as daddytypes.com and babygizmo.com, at the end of February 2012. In its bankruptcy filing, Maclaren USA, whose corporate name is American Baby Products, says that it has just $45,413 in assets and $15.9 million in liabilities.
According to an article on www.dealbook.nytimes.com by Peter Lattman and Andrew Martin, some bankruptcy lawyers have opined that the Maclaren filing was unusual in several respects. Since Farzad Rastegar, the owner of Maclaren seems to control all divisions of the company around the world, “it is unusual to put just one division of a company into Chapter 7 liquidation”.
Maclaren was founded in Britain by Owen Maclaren, who initiated the lightweight, collapsible baby carriage in the mid-1960s. Rastegar, an Iranian-born businessman, acquired Maclaren in the late 1990s after it had been in the British equivalent of bankruptcy.
According to the story in The New York Times, many creditors in the case appear to be individuals and/or entities associated with the company’s principals. Documents show that Maclaren USA owes the company’s Chinese affiliate, Maclaren (HK) Limited, approximately $13 million; $1.6 million is also shown to be owed to Rastegar or to companies that are affiliated with him.
One of Maclaren’s largest creditors is NettoCollection, which, according to bankruptcy records, is owed $1.1 million. David Netto, NettoCollection’s founder, is a well-known interior designer in affluent New York and Hollywood circles. Netto had designed a successful line of celebrated baby furniture that garnered popularity with such celebrities as Gwyneth Paltrow and Christy Turlington.
“The bankruptcy filing has raised some red flags that the [bankruptcy] trustee believes merit some further investigating,” according to the proposed counsel for the bankruptcy trustee assigned to the case.
As of the end of February 2012, Maclaren merchandise was still being sold on a number of websites as well as in a Maclaren showroom in Manhattan.
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