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Friday
June 05th, 2020

gordmansLiberal’s Gordman’s store is one of the many being shut down temporarily as the store’s parent company, Stage Stores, is in the midst of filing bankruptcy. The store is having a sale of its inventory and could be reopened at a later time. L&T photo/Robert PierceROBERT PIERCE • Leader & Times

 

In mid-March, the COVID-19 pandemic began its run through the world. About that same time, Liberal welcomed a Gordman’s store to town.

About two months later, that store, along with the rest in the chain owned by parent company Stage Stores Inc., is closing its doors temporarily.

Recently, Stage Stores announced the company has filed voluntary petitions under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division.

Although many local businesses had been losing money amidst the pandemic, Friday, Liberal Gordmans Manager Lindsey Holmes said her store had actually been keeping in the black throughout the pandemic.

However, Friday afternoon saw people holding signs on North Kansas Avenue near the store’s location in the Liberal Plaza announcing its closing and sales to liquidate its merchandise.

A press release from Stage Stores said the company will simultaneously solicit bids for a going concern sale of the business or any of its assets and initiate an orderly wind down of operations.

“The company will terminate the wind down of operations at certain locations if it receives a viable going concern bid,” the release said.

The release added the health and safety of its associates and guests remains Stage Stores’ top priority as it takes a phased approach to reopening its stores in the coming weeks to commence the liquidation of its inventory.

Stage Stores anticipated opening the first phase of about 557 stores last Friday, with the second phase of about 67 stores expected to open May 28 and the balance of the chain expected to open June 4.

The company will provide updates as to the location and timing of stores that are opening on its Web site, www.gordmans.com, in due course.

“This is a very difficult announcement, and it was a decision we reached only after exhausting every possible alternative,” Stage Stores President and CEO Michael Glazer said. “Over the last several months, we had been taking significant steps to attempt to strengthen our financial position and find an independent path forward. However, the increasingly challenging market environment was exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which required us to temporarily close all of our stores and furlough the vast majority of our associates. Given these conditions, we have been unable to obtain necessary financing and have no choice but to take these actions.”

Glazer added store associates play a key role in running those stores and serving guests.

“I would like to thank them for their hard work and dedication,” he said. “We recognize that the actions we have taken in response to the market environment and COVID-19 have affected them both professionally and personally. We deeply appreciate their efforts going forward as we begin the process of reopening stores to conduct liquidation sales. We thank our guests for their business and support, as well as our vendors, who help us maintain our assortment of brand-name apparel and stylish home decor. We appreciate the willingness of our landlords and vendors to work constructively with us to try and avoid this outcome. We hope that their efforts and the actions we have taken to reposition the business over the last several months will help attract the right partner who is interested in our off-price concept.”

Glazer said the health and safety of associates and customers is of the utmost importance to Stage Stores.

“We will continue to follow health authorities’ recommendations and industry best practices as we reopen to ensure our associates and guests feel comfortable shopping in our stores,” he said.

The release said the company intends to seek approval for a consensual use of cash collateral to ensure it has the liquidity necessary to support its operations in Chapter 11.

“The company has also filed a number of customary motions seeking court authorization to support its operations during the court-supervised process, including the continued payment of employee wages, salaries and health benefits without interruption for those employees who are working during this time,” the release said. “As part of the wind down, the company expects to honor existing customer programs, including gift cards and returns, for the first 30 days after a store reopens. The company anticipates it will stop accepting any outstanding gift cards or honoring other customer programs after that time.”

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