Charlotte Russe files for bankruptcy and will close nearly 100 stores

Charlotte Russe has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and plans to close 94 stores, the company announced Monday.

The young women’s clothing chain becomes the latest mall-based retailer to file for bankruptcy protection, and joins a list that includes Gymboree, Claire’s, and Mattress Firm.

In a court filing Monday, Charlotte Russe, which operates 500 stores in malls around the country, said it “suffered from a dramatic decrease in sales and in-store traffic” and struggled with “the burden of maintaining a large brick-and-mortar presence.”

The company hopes to emerge from bankruptcy with a new owner and a lighter balance sheet. It secured $50 million from lenders to continue running about 400 Charlotte Russe and Peek Children’s stores, as well as its website, during the bankruptcy.

Poor sales and too much debt hurt the retailer.

In 2009, private equity firm Advent International bought Charlotte Russe in a $380 million cash-for-stock deal.

Last year, Charlotte Russe reached a deal to reduce its debt from $214 million to $90 million. Despite the deal, Charlotte Russe’s sales plunged from $928 million in 2017 to $795 million last year.

Comparable store sales fell 11.7 percent during the third quarter of 2018, according to data from Moodys.

Fast-fashion retailers must quickly respond to the latest styles, trends and influencers to stay ahead, but Charlotte Russe admitted it missed the mark.

The company said its marketing strategies “failed to connect” with teens and young adults and “outpace the rapidly evolving fashion trends.”

It also “shifted too far towards fashion basics” and away from trendy clothes, which the company said prevented it from growing its online business.

As part of its turnaround effort, the company, plans to save money by closing stores, go back to its “on-trend, fast-fashion model,” and develop more content for online and social media to engage core shoppers.

There’s no guarantee that Charlotte Russe will successfully emerge from bankruptcy.

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.