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HOUSTON-Discount clothing retailer Weiner’s Stores Inc. is pulling the plug on 97 leased sites in four states and its corporate office-distribution center at Westview and Post Oak in Houston.

Raymond J. Miller, Weiner’s chairman and CEO, says the Westview and Post Oak location will shut down immediately. All assets will be sold as the 76-year-old retail operation winds down for permanent closure. “While we were encouraged by our performance in Chapter 11 during fall 2000 and the early results from the redesigned merchandising and marketing programs in early 2001, accelerated softness in apparel sales starting shortly after Easter,” says Miller. That, plus Tropical Storm Allison in June, has “generated operating losses and capital constraints that were too deep to weather,” he says.

A source tells GlobeSt.com that all efforts will be made to sublease the retail space. Twenty-four stores are in Houston proper, 10 in Houston’s suburbs, seven in Louisiana, five in Alabama, two in Mississippi and the remaining 49 stores scattered throughout Texas. Weiner’s would not confirm the portfolio’s total square footage or disclose brokers handling the lease disposition, but the Harris County Tax Assessor’s records show eight Weiner’s stores, ranging in size from 17,280 sf at the Long Point location to 35,309 sf at Eastex Freeway store.

In Oct. 16, 2000, Weiner’s filed a Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the US Bankruptcy Court in Delaware. Motions will be filed in the near future to proceed with the shutdown. Miller expects liquidation sales at various locations will wrap up by mid-September. “The company is in the process of finalizing an arrangement with a third party to conduct going-out-of-business sales at the remaining stores,” he says.

The Weiner’s source says several options had been weighed in the course of the shutdown decision, including a partial liquidation of a small group of core stores. Going out of business, say company officials, is the most favorable solution for secured lenders and creditors. Weiner’s isn’t sure how much money can be realized with the asset sale or if it will even cover its existing debt. What officials do believe is that it looks pretty grim that there will be anything left for a stockholders’ distribution.

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