Duluth's Lane Bryant, Justice stores to close as parent company files for bankruptcy
The announcement delivers another blow to the Miller Hill Mall, which has navigated years of brick-and-mortar woes and the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Lane Bryant and Justice stores in Duluth's Miller Hall Mall will close, according to a bankruptcy filing from its parent company, Ascena Retail Group.
Ascena, which recently sold Duluth-based retailer Maurices, filed for Chapter 11 protection Thursday. The New Jersey-based corporation said it would shutter all Catherines stores and slim down its portfolio, shuttering approximately 1,600 of its 2,800 stores across North America.
A list of store closings filed in the bankruptcy case included both the Lane Bryant women's clothing store and tween fashion retailer Justice in the Miller Hill Mall. Ascena indicated on its website that affected stores will likely remain open for approximately 30-60 days in order to sell off remaining inventory.
A Catherines store in Duluth's Stone Ridge Shopping Center previously closed, as did a former Dressbarn location that was rebranded under the Roz & Ali flag at the Miller Hill Mall.
Ascena said it has entered into a preplanned restructuring support agreement with more than 68% of its lenders, allowing for an approximately $1 billion reduction in its debt.
“The meaningful progress we have made driving sustainable growth, improving our operating margins and strengthening our financial foundation has been severely disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic," Carrie Teffner, interim executive chair, said in a statement. "As a result, we took a strategic step forward today to protect the future of the business for all of our stakeholders.”
The company also owns the Ann Taylor, Loft and Lou & Grey brands, which will see some closures.
Ascena last year completed a sale of Maurices to European private equity firm OpCapita . Based in Duluth since its founding in 1931, Maurices had been under the Ascena umbrella since 2005.
The already-struggling brick-and-mortar retail industry has taken a significant hit from the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced the closure of many stores for several months. J.C. Penney filed for bankruptcy in May , Pier 1 imports went out of business and Victoria's Secret said it would close about a quarter of its stores, among other announcements.
The Miller Hill Mall has been particularly impacted in recent years, including the loss of major department stores Sears and Yonkers, though Essentia Health has since purchased both anchor sites.