Fashion Retailer Express Files for Bankruptcy, Plans to Close 107 Stores and Sell to Investment Group

by Hayden Spiess

Columbus, Ohio — Fashion Retailer Express Inc. (OTCMKTS: EXPR) has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and announced plans to close 107 of its 602 stores.

The Columbus-based company’s portfolio includes apparel brands such as Bonobos, Express and UpWest Express. As part of the proceedings, 95 stores under the company’s Express banner will be shuttered alongside all 12 of its UpWest Express locations.

Further details on the specific locations set for closure were not provided, but closing sales at the impacted locations are anticipated to begin tomorrow, April 23. Business at all other brick-and-mortar locations and online is expected to continue as usual.

Express concurrently announced that it has received a non-binding letter of intent from a consortium of investors led by WHP Global to acquire a substantial majority of the company’s retail stores and operations.

The investment group includes an indirect subsidiary of Simon Property Group and Brookfield Properties. WHP Global, which purchased a controlling stake in the parent company of Toys ‘R’ Us in 2021, has held 7.4 percent ownership in Express Inc. since January 2023. 

The company has received a commitment for $35 million in new financing from unspecified existing lenders as part of bankruptcy proceedings. Express also received $49 million in cash on April 15 from the Internal Revenue Service through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

Express also announced that it has named Mark Still as senior vice president and chief financial officer effective immediately. Still has served as the company’s interim CFO since November 2023 and as senior vice president of brand finance, planning and allocation since January 2023.

The company currently operates 530 Express and Express Factory Outlet stores, 60 Bonobos locations and 12 UpWest Retail stores across the U.S. and Puerto Rico. 

Express common stock was delisted from the New York Stock Exchange in early March. The stock price closed at $0.70 per share on Friday, April 19, down from $19.40 one year ago. The stock price had a recent peak of $142 in June 2021, and in 2012 frequently traded at more than $500 per share.

Katie Sloan

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