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Express files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, plans to close nearly 100 stores

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Express Inc. has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, as the fashion retailer looks to sell of the majority of its stores.

Columbus, Ohio-based Express, which is also the parent of Bonbons and Upwest brands, is shuttering a handful of its operations in the process. In an announcement addressing its Monday bankruptcy filing, the company said it planned to close 95 of its Express retail stores and all UpWest stores.

Closing sales at these locations, which were not immediately specified, are set to begin Tuesday. Beyond these closures, Express said that it “expects to conduct business as usual.”

Also on Monday, Express announced that it received a non-binding letter of intent from a group led by WHP Global to potentially purchase the majority of its stores and operations. Express said that it had filed for Chapter 11 protection “to facilitate the sale process.”

The consortium exploring the deal also includes mall operators Simon Property Group and Brookfield Properties, Express said. The Associated Press reached out to WHP, Simon Property and Brookfield for comment Monday.

In a prepared statement, Express CEO Stewart Glendinning said that WHP “has been a strong partner” of the company’s since 2023 — adding that the proposed transaction would give Express additional financial resources and “better position the business for profitable growth” while maximizing value for stakeholders.

According to Express’ website, the company currently operates about 530 Express retail and Express Factory Outlet stores in the United States and Puerto Rico, in addition to roughly 60 Bonobos Guideshop locations, 12 UpWest stores as well as online operations for these brands.

Express reported nearly $1.2 billion in total debts and $1.3 billion in total assets in its Chapter 11 petition, which was filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware.

The company said Monday that it had received a commitment for $35 million in new financing, which is subject to court approval, from some existing lenders. That would add to the $49 million in cash that Express obtained earlier this month from the Internal Revenue Service related to the pandemic-era CARES Act.

Express also announced a leadership update on Monday. Mark Still will become chief financial officer, effective immediately, after serving as interim CFO since November 2023, the company said.

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