How Do You Spell Relief? Robert Campeau

With his empire on the brink of bankruptcy, Campeau loses his command

In the early-morning chill last Thursday, a line swiftly lengthened outside Bloomingdale's department store in New York City. But these were not shoppers eager to get the first crack at a sale in the chic emporium. They were merchandise suppliers clamoring to collect their money from Bloomie's, the centerpiece of Robert Campeau's troubled empire. After the store offices opened at 8 a.m., some 400 red-eyed vendors marched inside to pick up their checks.

Their determination was understandable. Campeau's American operations are tottering near bankruptcy, and the Bloomingdale's chain is up for sale. The setbacks have devastated Campeau, 66, a brash Canadian...