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Express Clothing Store Files for Bankruptcy, Plans Store Closures and Potential Sale to Weather Troubled Times

Clothing store Express, which has dominated American malls, is filing for bankruptcy protection and intends to close dozens of stores but also has in place a plan for weathering the storm, which involves a possibility of being sold out.

Express, a well-known fashion retailer whose portfolio includes Express, Bonobos, and UpWest, is filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and intends to close more than 100 stores. This move will position Express for stronger growth in the future.

The last few years have been particularly tough for the company, precipitated by its inability to keep up with changing consumer tastes, leading to falling sales, stagnation, and lack of growth. The company has also struggled to diversify its offerings and compete in an oversaturated U.S. market.

Troubled Times

The first rumblings of trouble started in August 2023 when Express planned to lay off 150 employees gradually through 2024 to save $30 million. However, this was only part of a larger $120 million cost reduction effort. The cost-cutting measures are planned to be extended well into 2025. However, the latest bankruptcy filing will give the company some breathing space and help it restructure its operations and renegotiate many agreements, which will remain in effect even after the stores are closed.

Losses Surged As Sales Sank

The retail apparel chain has 95 name brand stores along with all 12 UpWest retail stores. 2023 was a particularly bad year for the company, and by October 2023, losses had amounted to $154 million, triple compared to the previous year. Inventory was up 32%, while sales tanked by 5.6%, and gross margins dropped from 30% in previous years to 21% by October 2023.

A Buyer Could Save The Situation

The intended aim of filing for bankruptcy is to inject capital that could save the company in the long term. The company has revealed that it has obtained a non-binding letter of intent from a consortium led by WHP Global (“WHP”) and participants. The consortium also includes a branch or subsidiary of Simon Property Group, L. P. (“Simon”), and Brookfield Properties, who could purchase a substantial portion of Express’ retail stores and operations. WHP Global has in the past helped to revive many ailing businesses and is adept at helping struggling companies with a clear focus and vision for success and expansion.

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Manoj Nair

Manoj Nair: With a decade of news writing across various media platforms, Manoj is a seasoned professional. His dual role as an English teacher underscores his command over communication. He adeptly covers Politics, Technology, Crypto, and more, reflecting a broad and insightful perspective that engages and informs diverse audiences.

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