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C. Wonder, Billionaire Chris Burch’s Preppy Retailer, Goes Kaput

C. Wonder, Billionaire Chris Burch’s Preppy Retailer, Goes Kaput
[Screenshot: via C. Wonder]

It’s all over for C. Wonder, the mid-priced chain of Tory Burch-esque apparel and accessories founded by Burch’s ex-husband in 2011. According to BuzzFeed, the company announced the news to 100 remaining employees at a town hall meeting this morning.

“Due to the highly competitive nature of the current retail environment, C. Wonder will be closing its remaining stores,” spokeswoman Daniela Maron told Fast Company, confirming the report.

C. Wonder faced criticism for copycat behavior when it launched, thanks to a design aesthetic that closely mimicked that of the higher-end Tory Burch brand. At the time, Chris Burch, a billionaire investor and a former business partner of his ex-wife, still owned 28.3% of her eponymous company. He subsequently sold the majority of his stake and stepped down as chair of Tory Burch LLC amid a nasty legal battle, while in the meantime C. Wonder stores popped up around the country.

Eventually, Chris Burch’s interest in C. Wonder appeared to wane. He launched Poppin, an online retailer selling stylish office products, and more recently partnered with Ellen DeGeneres on the launch of her E.D. lifestyle brand and with a friend on the launch of a wilderness resort in Indonesia.

The first sign of trouble for C. Wonder came last November, when the company shuttered 20 of its 32 stores. At its peak last spring, analysts valued C. Wonder at $350 million. Tory Burch, in contrast, is now valued at north of $3.25 billion.

[via BuzzFeed]

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