Payless files for bankruptcy, closing 400 stores

Four stores to close in metro Milwaukee

Payless is closing four stores in the Milwaukee area and possibly a fifth.

Discount shoe seller Payless Inc. filed for bankruptcy Tuesday with a plan to immediately close about 400 under-performing stores including four in the Milwaukee area.

Payless is closing 400 stores.
Payless is closing 400 stores.

The bankruptcy will slash the Topeka, Kansas-based retailer’s debt by almost 50 percent, according to the company’s website. Payless listed liabilities of $1 billion to $10 billion in Chapter 11 documents filed Tuesday in St. Louis bankruptcy court, according to Bloomberg.

The following Wisconsin stores will close, according to the company’s website:

  • Midtown Center, 4181 N 56Th St.,  Milwaukee
  • Grand Avenue Mall,  275 W. Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee
  • Lincoln Plaza,  Rhinelander
  • Wausau Center Mall, Wausau

The company employs almost 22,000 people, according to its website, and has more than 4,000 stores in 30 countries. Payless has 13 stores in the Milwaukee area and one in Kenosha.

In January, Payless closed Payless Shoe Source and Payless Kids at Regency Mall in Racine.

“This is a difficult, but necessary, decision driven by the continued challenges of the retail environment, which will only intensify,” chief executive officer W. Paul Jones said in the statement.

Retailers continue to struggle as consumer shopping habits have shifted more to online and customers seek more of an experience when they visit brick and mortar stores.

In the past year, American Apparel and Limited Stores have begun shutting down retail operations, while BCBG Max Azria and Gordmans Stores filed for bankruptcy with plans to auction their assets.

Sears Holdings Corp. has also indicated to investors that it questions its ability to continue operating.

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