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The New York Post has a story about how gourmet grocer Dean & DeLuca, which had announced expansion plans, instead is “drastically downsizing its chain nationwide, quietly closing stores, stiffing landlords and fending off lawsuits from angry suppliers who say they haven’t been paid for their pricey pastries.”

Dean & DeLuca is owned these days by by Sorapoj Techakraisri, described as “a 40-year-old Thai property tycoon” who is “luxury-obsessed,” and who had announced plans to expand to 100 stores in the US and 100 more around the world; the hard times have meant that the chain has shrunk from 42 stores to 18, “including four in Manhattan and nine licensed stores overseas.”

An excerpt from the Post story:

“Costly distractions have included a six-year sponsorship deal with the PGA Tour’s Fort Worth, Texas, Invitational. Dean & DeLuca recently backed out of it, only two years into the contract. Last year, the grocer signed a six-year deal to be a sponsor at the US Open, including signage at Arthur Ashe Stadium. The company says it is ‘100 percent committed’ to that contract.

“Nevertheless, Dean & DeLuca last fall hired restructuring firm Emerald Capital Advisors. In addition to pulling out of the PGA deal, the company has since closed four stores in Charlotte, North Caroline, and Wichita, Kansas, where the storied grocer is headquartered now.

“Last fall, Dean & DeLuca also withdrew from three leases in Manhattan before the stores opened, The Post reported exclusively. Those included one near Grand Central Terminal where employees would be referred to as ‘cast members,’ delivering food with a theatrical flourish.
Plans for a swanky store in London got canceled as Dean & DeLuca was forced into a settlement with a landlord, sources said. Last month, a landlord in Charlotte kicked Dean & DeLuca out for not paying three months worth of rent, which amounted to $96,000. Other store closures occurred under the radar.”

Dean & DeLuca president Laura Lendrum tells the Post that the company is “renewing our focus on our New York City and Napa Valley flagship stores as well as our e-commerce business.”
KC's View:
I have to be honest here. I forgot Dean & DeLuca was even in business, that’s how irrelevant it seems to have become to the ongoing culinary/gastronomic conversation. I have to wonder if they focused so much on building the image that they forgot to build the business and focus on being relevant.