When it filed for bankruptcy in October 1975, W. T. Grant (Grant) was the seventeenth largest…

When it filed for bankruptcy in October 1975, W. T. Grant (Grant) was the seventeenth largest retailer in the United States, with almost 1,200 stores, more than 82,000 employees, and sales of $1.7 billion. It had paid dividends consistently since 1906. The collapse of Grant came largely as a surprise to the capital markets, particularly to the banks that provided short-term working capital loans. Grant had altered its business strategy in the mid-1960s to transform itself from an urban discount store chain to a suburban house goods store chain. Its failure serves as a classic study of poor implementation of what seemed like a sound business strategy. What happened to Grant and why did it happen are questions that, with some analysis, can be answered. On the other hand, why the symptoms of Grant’s prolonged illness were not diagnosed and treated earlier is difficult to understand.

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