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Express files for bankruptcy, will close 95 Express and all UpWest stores

By Tomi Kilgore

Clothing retailer seeks court approval to continue operating its stores and paying its employees

Express Inc. disclosed Monday that it has filed for bankruptcy, a move the troubled clothing retailer has been expected to pursue for the past few months.

The company (EXPR) said it has filed motions with the bankruptcy court seeking will continue to operate its business and is seeking "first-day" relief to allow it to continue to operate its stores and pay employee wages and benefits.

Express has filed a motion with the court seeking approval of "debtor-in-possession" financing of $162.6 million.

As part of the bankruptcy process, Express said it has received a letter of intent from a group of investors led by WHP Global for the potential sale of "a substantial majority" of the company's retail stores. The investor group includes a wholly owned subsidiary of Simon Property Group Inc. (SPG) and Brookfield Properties.

"We continue to make meaningful progress refining our product assortments, driving demand, connecting with customers and strengthening our operations," said Express Chief Executive Stewart Glendinning. "We are taking an important step that will strengthen our financial position and enable Express to continue advancing our business initiatives."

The company said that while its Express-branded stores, and its Bonobos Guideships and UpWest stores will be open during their usual hours for now, the company plans to close about 95 Express stores and all of its UpWest stores as part of the bankruptcy.

The closing sales at the affected stores are scheduled to begin on Tuesday, April 23.

As of Oct. 28, 2023, the company had a total of 529 Express retail and outlet stores and 12 UpWest stores. There were also 59 Bonobos stores.

The stock has been trading over the counter after the New York Stock Exchange moved last month to delist it given the company's failure to meet listing requirements. It closed Friday at 70 cents, just above the April 5 record closing low of 66 cents.

Express shares have been trending lower for years, except for a brief meme-like surge in early 2021. The company implemented a 1-for-20 reverse stock split in August 2023 to prop up prices.

The selloff had accelerated in February of this year, after The Wall Street Journal reported that Express had hired advisors to help with a debt restructuring, which the report said at that time could include a bankruptcy filing within weeks.

-Tomi Kilgore

This content was created by MarketWatch, which is operated by Dow Jones & Co. MarketWatch is published independently from Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal.


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04-22-24 0859ET

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