For decades Claire’s jewelry chain has been a fixture at malls and shopping centers including Wausau Center. But the company is the latest retailer to file for bankruptcy.
Claire’s called the filing an attempt to restructure its balance sheet, not its operations. The company, which earned $29 million in profit last year and $1.3 billion in revenue, said that it was far healthier than fellow retailers that have also turned to bankruptcy — a growing list that includes mall regulars like Gymboree, the Limited and Payless Shoes.
On Monday, Claire’s filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in Delaware, hoping to shed $1.9 billion in debt and close some underperforming stores. The chain, which said it operates in 99 percent of American malls, selling low-priced cubic zirconia jewelry and other accessories, was purchased by the private equity firm Apollo Global Management for $3.1 billion in 2007.
In a regulatory filing, the company acknowledged that mall traffic is declining and that it planned to close some of its underperforming stores and renegotiate leases. The chain, which also owns the Icing brand, a jewelry chain targeting older shoppers, projected that its total store count in North America would slide to 1,400 locations in 2022 from 1,570 at the end of last year.
Claire’s has not stated specifically which stores will close, and its impact on Wausau Center is not yet known.