WARD’S TO ASK COURT’S OK ON CLOSING

NEW YORK — Montgomery Ward & Co. plans to ask for bankruptcy court approval to close up to 15 percent of its full-line department stores as part of its restructuring.
The news was disclosed Friday at a hearing in Delaware Bankruptcy Court, where Ward’s filed for bankruptcy on July 7. The closings could represent as many as 55 of its 356 stores, but specific locations to be shut weren’t provided.
The Chicago-based chain plans to ask for court approval for the move at a hearing set for October 30.
Ward’s is currently liquidating all 44 of its Lechmere and Electronic Avenue & More consumer electronic stores, but it hasn’t closed any full-line stores since filing for bankruptcy. The electronics units were sold to Schottenstein Bernstein Capital Group, a liquidator, in August for $176 million.
John Workman, Ward’s chief financial officer, told the court the chain has $270 million in cash on hand, which he said is enough to last through the Christmas season, because about two-thirds of its vendors have agreed to ship goods on normal trade terms.
Workman also said the company can tap into its $1 billion debtor-in-possession line with General Electric, which controls Ward’s and owns its credit card operation. Workman said Ward’s wants to evaluate Christmas results before it starts working on a formal reorganization plan.

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