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Express Is Closing Over 100 Stores After Bankruptcy Filing

The company's lifestyle brand UpWest will also face significant closures.

The retail landscape has undergone drastic changes post-pandemic. Indoor shopping centers are nearing extinction, and apparel brands have pivoted from dressy business attire to casual basics due to remote work schedules. While the switch has benefited athleisure brands, stores rooted in fashion-forward dress wear like Express are sinking. The mall mainstay is the latest retailer to downsize amidst the gravitational shift in consumer demands.

RELATED: The Body Shop Is Closing All U.S. Stores After Filing for Bankruptcy.

After filing for bankruptcy, Express will close more than 100 stores starting April 23, 2024, the company shared in a press release on Monday. Express is widely known for its suits and work collection, though the entire store aims to showcase "an edit of top trends," per its website. The company is deeply rooted in mall culture but has failed to keep up with its competitors, according to Neil Saunders, GlobalData managing director.

"With the company struggling to gain traction with consumers, it has been obvious for quite some time that bankruptcy was the inevitable destination for Express," Saunders said in a note obtained by CNN.

"The woes at Express are not all of its own making. The formal and smart casual market for both men and women has softened over recent years because of a rise from working from home and the casualization of fashion," he said. "This puts Express firmly on the wrong side of trends and, in our view, the chain made too little effort to adapt."

In addition to Express and Express factory outlets, the company also operates the lifestyle brand UpWest and the upscale men's clothing store Bonobos. The planned closures will affect all 10 UpWest stores and 95 Express brick-and-mortar locations (specific locations haven't yet been announced).

That said, Express and its brands are committed to being around for the long haul. Express, Bonobos, and UpWest customers can still shop online via the brand's app. Additionally, all brands are "fulfilling orders and processing returns, merchandise return policies remain unchanged, and gift cards and store credits are currently being redeemed in-store," the company said in the release.

Customers can still take advantage of the EXPRESS Insider program as well, and Bonobos is eager to continue its services to "premium wholesale customers."

"We continue to make meaningful progress refining our product assortments, driving demand, connecting with customers and strengthening our operations," said company CEO Stewart Glendinning.

One way Express plans to strengthen its operations is by partnering with investment company WHP Global on the potential sale of a large majority of its storefronts and operations. This is on top of the $35 million in financing funds the company also received.

"We are taking an important step that will strengthen our financial position and enable Express to continue advancing our business initiatives. WHP has been a strong partner to the Company since 2023, and the proposed transaction will provide us additional financial resources, better position the business for profitable growth and maximize value for our stakeholders," explained Glendinning.

Emily Weaver
Emily is a NYC-based freelance entertainment and lifestyle writer — though, she’ll never pass up the opportunity to talk about women’s health and sports (she thrives during the Olympics). Read more
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