MONTGOMERY WARD TO CLOSE ANOTHER 48 STORES THIS YEAR

NEW YORK — The bankrupt Montgomery Ward & Co. said Friday it plans to close 48 stores, or about 15 percent of the chain, by the end of December, resulting in the loss of about 3,800 full- and part-time employees.
These closings, plus nine others that Ward’s previously said would be shut down, will leave the troubled chain with 294 full-price stores.
Ward’s has liquidated 44 of its Lechmere and Electronic Avenue & More electronic stores since filing for bankruptcy July 7.
The closings of the 48 stores are subject to bankruptcy court approval.
“In addition to not being focused on a core retail strategy, Ward’s suffered from having a number of outdated and underperforming locations, and, as such, we have moved quickly to identify these stores and take appropriate action,” said Roger Goddu, chairman and chief executive officer, in a statement.
“We believe we can operate each of our remaining stores profitably through merchandise revitalization and a combination of margin enhancement, operational adjustments and expense structure adjustments, including lease negotiations.”
Asked if additional closings next year are possible, a spokeswoman declined to comment. She did say that stores in the future will be required to meet more rigorous performance standards than previously.
Goddu said the company will continue to evaluate remaining stores “to insure that every Ward’s location is providing a measurable benefit to the company overall.”
The closings are spread throughout the country, but New York was the hardest-hit state, with six closings, in Colonie, Ithaca, Plattsburgh, Rome, Saratoga Springs and Schenectady.
Florida was hit pretty hard, with five closings, including two in Orlando and one each in Altamonte Springs, St. Petersburg and Tampa.
Five will also close in Illinois, in Lansing, Mount Prospect, Naperville, Normal and Waukengan. There will also be three closings in Indianapolis and another three in Dallas.
The Chicago-based Ward’s late last year embarked on a massive program to get out of low-margin merchandise, such as computers, and expanding high-margin areas, such as apparel and jewelry, and broadening brands in hard lines.
The chain is attempting to position itself above discounters, but below department stores such as Sears, Roebuck and J.C. Penney.
Ward’s lost $365 million in the six months ended June 30 on sales of $2.7 billion. Last year, it lost $237 million on sales of $6.6 billion.

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