Store closings 2020: Catherines, Justice stores to close in bankruptcy

The parent company of Lane Bryant, Ann Taylor and the Justice tween brand has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, a move spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic.
New Jersey-based Ascena Retail Group, which also operates Ann Taylor Loft, Catherines, Lou & Grey and Cacique, plans to close an undisclosed number ofthe company’s 2,800 stores, Ascena said in a news release Thursday.
The company said it plans to shutter all of its Catherines plus-size stores as well as a “significant number of Justice stores and a select number of Ann Taylor, LOFT, Lane Bryant and Lou & Grey stores.”
“The meaningful progress we have made driving sustainable growth, improving our operating margins and strengthening our financial foundation has been severely disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Carrie Teffner, interim executive chair, said in the release. “As a result, we took a strategic step forward today to protect the future of the business for all of our stakeholders.”
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According to frequently asked questions posted on Ascena’s restructuring website, the final number of store closings “will be determined based on the ability of Ascena and our landlords to reach agreement on sustainable lease structures.”
The closing sales are expected to last 30 to 60 days from “the filing date depending on the store location,” Ascena said.
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Like other apparel retailers with a heavy commitment to shopping malls, Ascena was grappling with declining foot traffic long before the coronavirus pandemic, which has led to an increase of retailers filing for bankruptcy.

As many as 25,000 stores could shutter this year as businesses continue to feel the impacts of the pandemic, according to a recent report from Coresight Research.
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Brooks Brothers, Lucky Brand, J.C. Penney, Neiman Marcus, Sur La Table and J. Crew have all filed for Chapter 11 since May.
Other retailers, who haven’t filed for bankruptcy, also plan to shutter locations, including Victoria’s Secret, Nordstrom and Signet Jewelers, parent company of Kay, Zales and Jared. This week, Tailored Brands, parent company of Men’s Wearhouse, said it will close up to 500 stores.
Ascena started a “fleet optimization” program in 2017 and closed nearly 900 stores. In 2019, the company closed its nearly 650 Dressbarn stores and also sold Maurices, its other value brand.
Teffner said in a May 28 business update, that COVID-19 “significantly disrupted our business” and reduced earnings.
“With retail stores making up the majority of our revenue and cash flow, the uncertainty created by COVID-19 requires us to evaluate all options available to protect the business and its stakeholders,” Teffner said in May.
This story will be updated.
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