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Retail

Century 21 to shutter operations

By Kristopher Fraser

Sep 11, 2020

Century 21 Stores has become the latest bankruptcy casualty in America. Unfortunately, this one doesn't look like it's ending in an acquisition unless someone sweeps in at the eleventh hour. The off-price designer retail chain will be shutting down all of its stores and ceasing operations. Going-out-of-business sales are expected to begin at 13 stores, including locations in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Florida.

The 60-year-old family-owned retail chain was hit particularly hard by the coronavirus pandemic and lost months of business due to the lockdowns. Century 21 also still relies heavily on brick-and-mortar sales, even though they also operate e-commerce. Century 21 attributes its failure to survive the pandemic to the nonpayment of business interruption insurance worth 175 million dollars that would have helped the company stay afloat after the financial hit from the pandemic.

"We now have no viable alternative but to begin the closure of our beloved family business because our insurers, to whom we have paid significant premiums every year for protection against unforeseen circumstances like we are experiencing today, have turned their backs on us at this most critical time," Century 21 co-CEO Raymond Gindi in a statement. "While retailers across the board have suffered greatly due to Covid-19 ... we are confident that had we received any meaningful portion of the insurance proceeds, we would have been able to save thousands of jobs and weather the storm."

Century 21 was one of the most popular off-price retail destinations due to its high proportion of designer labels ranging from Dolce & Gabbana to Burberry. Century 21 filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York. The company also has a lawsuit in the Supreme Court of New York against several of its insurance providers and has requested the case be expedited for the benefit of its stakeholders.

In 1961, Century 21 was founded by the late Al Gindi and his late cousin Sonny Gindi. The pair opened a total of five Century 21 stores, and the next generation of their family was able to expand the business. For New Yorkers and frequent New York City tourists who frequented Century 21, this is the end of an era.

photo: via c21stores.com