Changing consumer shopping habits, e-commerce, fast-fashion and overstoring are rendering flocks of retailers distressed -- which lays out an opportunity for dealmakers running healthy retailers. Because shedding real estate is so often one of the first steps of a retail restructuring process, companies born in or well-adapted to the digital age are poised to take advantage of those jettisoned leases to expand -- and rapidly. 

“If you’re looking to expand and you’re looking to expand quickly, when a retailer goes into bankruptcy and is sitting there with a couple hundred leases, that is an opportunity,” says Patrick Nash, a partner at Kirkland & Ellis LLP. (For more on how retailers use real estate during turnaround processes, see American Apparel Underscores Retail’s Big Problem: Overstoring.)

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