Tea giant in Coquitlam’s biggest mall likely to close forever

Tea drinkers in the Tri-Cities right now have three fewer options for their favourite beverages.

And those options are likely to stay closed forever. DavidsTea – which operates a store in Coquitlam Centre - is seeking court protection from creditors so it can continue operating while it restructures and plans to close a significant number of its stores.

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DavidsTea in Coquitlam Centre has been closed since March 17 as the COVID-19 pandemic spread.

The Montreal-based company said Wednesday it will seek an order in Quebec Superior Court to allow it to restructure under the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act.

It also plans to seek similar orders for its U.S. subsidiary under Chapter 15 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.

The company said during the restructuring process it plans to continue operating online through davidstea.com and its wholesale distribution channel, which supplies grocery stores and pharmacies.

"The transformation of our business model is necessary to position the company for a return to profitability," chief financial officer Frank Zitella said in a statement.

"DavidsTea has experienced a multi-year decline in brick-and-mortar sales and the post COVID-19 retail environment creates significant challenges for our unique in-store customer experience."

It had warned in mid-June that it hadn't paid rent on any of its stores for April, May and June and that it may seek a formal restructuring.

Zitella said Wednesday it would seek more favourable lease conditions from landlords and ultimately may terminate "a significant number" of its 222 leases.

DavidsTea's founder and interim chief executive, Herschel Segal, said he regretted the impact that the restructuring will have on its employees.

"This has been an incredibly difficult decision to take, but a necessary one to ensure the long-term viability of our company," Segal added.

  • With files from the Canadian Press

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