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Bebe To Close All 180 Stores; Future Plans Uncertain

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The rumors that women’s clothing retailer bebe might exit the mall and go online-only were apparently true, as the company has announced plans to shutter all 180 of its stores this spring.

Bebe announced in a regulatory filing Friday that it had made the decision to close all 180 of its locations by the end May.

The company has hired a firm to hold a liquidation sale of all current merchandise and fixtures located in the stores. By closing the stores, bebe says it expects to take a $20 million loss, likely from lease negotiations.

The California-based retailer, which was created in 1976 and caters to “the confident, sexy, modern woman,” announced in late March that it was exploring strategic alternatives.

While bebe didn’t provide details on its future plans in its filing, the store closures don’t necessarily mean the end of the bebe brand. As Bloomberg reported last month, one of the chain’s strategic alternatives included the possibility of moving its business online only.

If that happens, bebe wouldn’t be the first.

In November, Kenneth Cole announced it would close all of its outlet stores, leaving just two retail locations and its online store open.

Teen retailer dEliA*s rebounded from its 2014 bankruptcy in April 2015 by announcing it would launch an online-only store. In Sept. 2015, Macy’s revived Filene’s Basement as an online only store.

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