Guitar Center Inc. is looking to restructure its $1.3 billion debt burden as more and more music makers move their shopping online, according to a recent report by Reuters.
Guitar Center’s financial struggles echo those of many brick-and-mortar retailers, whose stores increasingly serve as showrooms for consumers, who then turn to the internet and big-box retailers for bargains on musical instruments and related products. In addition to Amazon, musicians can now buy their instruments from online retailers like Sweetwater and Reverb.com, as well as directly from manufacturers like Fender Musical Instruments.
Guitar Center, majority-owned by Ares Management LP, has been having conversations with investment banks and law firms about hiring advisers to help address its capital structure, according to sources familiar with the matter. Reuters reports that these sources asked not to be identified because the company’s plans to cut its debt have not been made public. Ares declined to comment.
Guitar Center’s debt is currently trading at a significant discount to its face value. Its $325 million in unsecured bonds due in 2020 are trading at about 59 cents on the dollar, according to Thomson Reuters data. Guitar Center has $615 million in secured bonds due in 2019, which are trading at about 87 cents on the dollar.
If the restructuring is successful, it would be the second time in recent years that Guitar Center has undergone a debt restructuring. In 2014, Ares, which was Guitar Center’s creditor at the time, swapped its debt in the retailer for a controlling equity stake, cutting the retailer’s debt by about $500 million.
In April, credit ratings agency Moody’s Investors Service Inc. said it did not expect that Guitar Center will generate enough free cash flow in the next 12 to 18 months to materially reduce its debt and improve leverage.
In other news, Guitar Center has opened a new mall store, a 14,600-square-foot location at the Ellsworth Place mall in Silver Spring, Md. The new location is one of five leases arranged for Guitar Center by SCG Retail, a division of The Shopping Center Group, over the past six months, according to a report by Real Estate Weekly.
In addition to the Ellsworth Place store, Guitar Center will be opening a 19,000-square-foot location at Paramus Town Square on Route 17 in Paramus, N.J. Guitar Center plans to close its nearby locations on Route 17 and Route 4, and open a superstore in the new location by September.
Guitar Center is also opening a 2,200-square-foot Music and Arts location in South Ramsey, N.J., a 15,425-square-foot location at Alexandria Commons in Alexandria, Va., and a 12,000 square-foot location at Town Center in Laurel, Md.
Correction (7/14/17): An earlier version of this post incorrectly referred to Guitar Center’s new Silver Spring, Md. store as the company’s first mall location.