Montgomery Ward CEO Roger Goddu called the action "unavoidable"in a prepared statement, and further noted that weak holiday salesin 2000 were the last straw. The retailer, which operates 250stores in 31 states, employing roughly 37,000 people, will file forbankruptcy and close all of its stores by the second quarter of2001. The company has had a difficult time of it in recent years,emerging from a Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization in 1999 afterclosing about 100 stores.

Part of that re-organization was a sell-off that allowed thedevelopment of 500,000-sf e-port, a high-tech space being builtfrom the former Wards Catalog Warehouse on the Chicago River.Currently, Wards occupies a high-rise building nearby, which willpresumably add its leaseable space to market once Wards closes itsdoors for good.

GE Capital reportedly pumped as much as $100 million into thestruggling company as late as the summer of 2000, but to no avail.Wards was one of the oldest department store changes in the UnitedStates, getting its start as a mail-order business in the 1870s,and opening its first store in 1926 in Indiana. Its longevity couldnot save it, however, in an age of Wal Mart, Best Buy and Target,which slowly but surely robbed Wards of any distinctiveness it hadas a retailer, according to retail analysts familiar with thematter.

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