San Francisco Department-Store Icon Gump’s Seeks Lifeline

(Bloomberg) -- A storied San Francisco department store that lived through the 1906 earthquake may not survive the age of online shopping.

Gump’s Holdings LLC, owner of Bay Area retail landmark Gump’s, is looking for a lifeline in negotiations with its main lender, Sterling National Bank, such as more time to find additional financing or a buyer, according to people familiar with the matter.

A spokesman for the company declined to comment. A representative for Sterling didn’t immediately answer requests for comment.

Department stores like Gump’s have been one of the hardest hit sectors of the retail shakeout thanks to an aging customer base, expensive rents and growing online competition. Two regional chains, Gordmans and Bon-Ton, have recently filed for bankruptcy and closed their doors.

Gump’s announced in May that it had hired an adviser to seek financing or other alternatives for the company, which dates back to 1861. An influx of wealthy gold prospectors helped shape the retailer’s evolution into a luxury seller of items like imported Chinese and Japanese porcelains, silks and jade.

Besides its store in San Francisco’s Union Square shopping district, the company has a direct-to-consumer division, which includes a website and catalog, that makes up 75 percent of its revenue.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.