After months of rumors that it would do so, Forever 21 has announced it has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The company made the announcement late Sunday night. The bankruptcy filing comes as brick-and-mortar fashion chains face increasing competition from online fashion retailers and dwindling foot traffic in shopping malls. In a statement, Forever 21 said:
Today, Forever 21, Inc. voluntarily filed for bankruptcy protection under chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. Essentially this allows Forever 21 to continue to operate its stores as usual, while the Company takes positive steps to reorganize the business so we can return to profitability and refocus on delivering incredible styles and fashion you love for many years to come. This does NOT mean that we are going out of business – on the contrary, filing for bankruptcy protection is a deliberate and decisive step to put us on a successful track for the future.
In addition to filing for bankruptcy, Forever 21 announced it will close 350 stores worldwide. Currently, the Los Angeles-based company has about 800 stores worldwide with 500 of those being in the U.S. According to the New York Times, Forever 21 will close 178 stores in the U.S., with the remaining 172 stores being closed located in other countries. Currently, the company employs about 32,800 people worldwide.
“We went from 7 countries to 47 countries within a less-than-six-year time frame and with that came a lot of complexity,” Linda Chang, Forever 21’s executive vice president, said. “The retail industry is obviously changing—there has been a softening of mall traffic and sales are shifting more to online.”