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FOOTHILL RANCH, CA-Teen apparel retailer Wet Seal will close about 150 stores as part of its restructuring plan, leaving it with approximately 400 units. The locally based company hopes to shut the stores by the end of February and will lay off about 2,000 employees.

“While a difficult to decision to make, it is necessary for the Wet Seal, Inc. to reduce its cost structure and focus on those stores that can deliver the best performance as we implement our new merchandise strategy,” says Joe Deckop, Wet Seal’s interim chief executive officer.

The announcement comes after months of speculation that the retailer would close stores and/or file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. During its Q3, the company posted a loss of $24.6 million and same-store sales dropped by 12.6% from the same period a year ago.

Earlier this month the company chose Joel Waller as its new CEO. Waller is the chairman of Wilsons Leather, a company that closed about 100 stores this year as part of its own cost-cutting plan. Waller is replacing Deckop, who will remain with the company.

Wet Seal operates 463 mainly mall-based Wet Seal stores and 96 Arden B units. All of the stores it is closing are Wet Seals. At the beginning of the year it shuttered its entire 31-store Zutopia chain.

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