NEW YORK — Wilsons The Leather Experts Inc. will close up to 100 stores and eliminate more than 1,000 jobs as part of a program to reduce costs and boost efficiency.

This story first appeared in the January 23, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The troubled Minneapolis-based chain plans to work with landlords to close underperforming stores, in addition to 28 units previously slated for closure this month and another 40 to 50 with leases expiring this year. About 950 store-related jobs will be eliminated due to the new round of cuts, in addition to 70 positions at the firm’s corporate headquarters and at distribution centers in Minnesota and Las Vegas. The Las Vegas distribution facility will be closed.

Wilsons has retained a third-party liquidator and real estate firm to assist in the process.

Wilsons expects to take a pretax charge of between $40 million and $50 million. These charges will be incurred during the period of liquidation and lease settlement and will impact results during both the 2003 and 2004 fiscal years. Additionally, its credit agreement has been amended to require it to amend, refund, renew, extend or refinance its $30.6 million of 11 1/4 percent senior notes due August 2004 by April 15.

The firm has engaged Financo Inc. to assist in developing strategies relating to these notes.