Stein Mart files for bankruptcy and will close most of its 300 stores

Discount retailer Stein Mart has filed for bankruptcy and plans to close most of its nearly 300 stores.

The 112-year-old company blamed its failure on changing consumer habits and the pandemic, both of which “have caused significant financial distress on our business,” Stein Mart CEO Hunt Hawkins said in a release on Wednesday. Like other retailers, its operations were severely hit after the pandemic forced temporary store closures in many states.

Stein Mart, a discount department-store chain, said it doesn’t have “sufficient liquidity to continue operating in the ordinary course of business.” As a result, it’s permanently closing a “significant portion, if not all” of its brick-and-mortar stores with liquidation sales beginning immediately.

The company is also considering strategic alternatives, including the sale of its website and its intellectual property.

Wednesday’s Chapter 11 filing wasn’t a surprise. Stein Mart had said in June that Covid-19 caused financial distress for the company, adding in a regulatory filing that the company had “substantial doubt” it would continue to operate for the next year.

Stein Mart began in 1908 as a small department store in Mississippi before eventually expanding to nearly 300 locations across 30 states. Each store has around 30 employees, and the company currently employs more than 8,000 people.

Stein Mart joins several other retailers have fallen into bankruptcy in recent months, including Tuesday Morning, JCPenney, Sur La Table and Muji. Pier 1 Imports, which filed for bankruptcy in February and is closing all of its stores, announced in July it found a buyer for its online operations and intellectual property.

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