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Cotton Ginny, Au Coton File for Court Protection

MONTREAL — A weak Christmas season has forced two of Canada’s women’s clothing chains to seek court protection from creditors and another to lay off workers.<br><br>Cotton Ginny, a Toronto-based retailer of plus-size casual clothes...

MONTREAL — A weak Christmas season has forced two of Canada’s women’s clothing chains to seek court protection from creditors and another to lay off workers.

Cotton Ginny, a Toronto-based retailer of plus-size casual clothes that operates 300 stores under the banners Cotton Ginny and Tabi, has obtained court protection from creditors who are owed $30.4 million, including about $10 million to suppliers. All figures have been converted from Canadian dollars at current exchange rates.

The company intends to close about 100 outlets as part of a restructuring plan. The insolvent retailer will seek a buyer for the remaining stores or try to remerchandise them. The retailer has lost more than $13 million in the last two years.

“We are convinced that beginning this restructuring process is the best way to protect the valuable franchise we’ve spent more than 20 years building,” the company said in a statement.

Au Coton, another women’s casual clothing retailer based here with 69 stores across the country, has also filed for protection for the second time in less than a year. It owes about $5 million. It first filed for protection last April when it operated 140 outlets. Now, it is being squeezed by other casual clothing retailers, notably Gap, Wal-Mart Canada and Zellers.

Au Coton’s U.S. subsidiary sought protection from creditors in 1993 before pulling out of the American market.

Les Boutiques San Francisco here also is faced with slumping sales and announced it was cutting 60 jobs in its headquarters and overhauling its high-profile downtown Les Ailes de la Mode department store.

The 184-store retailer, which operates under the San Francisco, L’Officiel, Bikini Village and West Coast Banners, said it will review all of its operations in the coming months.

This story first appeared in the January 22, 2003 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.