Gordmans store bankruptcy

Stage Stores Inc. — which tried unsuccessfully to convert from a full-price to an off-price format — filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection late Sunday.

The filing, in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas, has the company both looking for a buyer for all or part of its business and starting to wind down operations. 

The retailer will start to reopen Friday after the COVID-19 shutdown, opening 557 of its 738 stores. The whole chain is expected to be reopened by June 4. 

“This is a very difficult announcement and it was a decision that we reached only after exhausting every possible alternative,” said Michael Glazer, president and chief executive officer. “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.”

Stage Stores, which is based in Houston, has been struggling for years, but for a brief moment last year seemed to have hit on a promising model. 

The company started converting its full-price Bealls, Goody’s, Palais Royal, Peebles and Stage specialty department store businesses to its Gordmans off-price concept, while also teaming with Amazon so its stores could serve as a pickup point for the web giant. 

The initial results were good and third-quarter comparable sales shot up 17.4 percent. But results over Christmas were less promising and then COVID-19 hit.

Stage Stores joins True Religion, J. Crew Group, Neiman Marcus Group and more in bankruptcy.