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Express files for bankruptcy; closing more than 100 stores

Joe Raedle/Getty Images via CNN Newsource

Originally Published: 22 APR 24 10:09 ET

By Parija Bhatnagar, CNN

New York (CNN) — Trendy fashion retailer Express Inc. has filed for bankruptcy after consistently struggling with continued missteps over its merchandise mix that failed to get shoppers excited.

The retailer filed with the bankruptcy court in Delaware and said it also plans to shutter several stores as part of the process.

The company operates Express, Express factory outlets, Bonobos and UpWest stores under its corporate umbrella and said in a release Monday that it plans to close 95 Express locations (it operates more than 500 in the US) and all UpWest locations with closing sales at those stores set to begin on April 23.

All of its brands’ online channels will continue to accept orders and all brands will otherwise also fulfill orders, process returns and redeem gift cards and store credits in-store. Customer benefits related to the Express Insider program will remain unaffected, the company said.

“With the company struggling to gain traction with consumers, it has been obvious for quite some time that bankruptcy was the inevitable destination for Express,” Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData, said in a note Monday.

“The woes at Express are not all of its own making. The formal and smart casual market for both men and women has softened over recent years because of a rise from working from home and the casualization of fashion,” he said. “This puts Express firmly on the wrong side of trends and, in our view, the chain made too little effort to adapt.”

At the same time, according to Saunders, the retailer was punished with poor sales because its products were overpriced and bland as compared to its competitors. “As a result, the Express brand itself has become less relevant to shoppers,” he said.

“We continue to make meaningful progress refining our product assortments, driving demand, connecting with customers and strengthening our operations,” Stewart Glendinning, Express Inc. CEO, said in a statement. “We are taking an important step that will strengthen our financial position and enable Express to continue advancing our business initiatives.

Express has also obtained $35 million in new financing from existing lenders and said it has received a non-binding letter of intent from a consortium led by WHP Global for the potential sale of a substantial majority of its retail stores and operations.

“WHP has been a strong partner to the company since 2023, and the proposed transaction will provide us additional financial resources, better position the business for profitable growth and maximize value for our stakeholders,” Glendinning said in a statement.

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