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MANSFIELD, MA-The US retail division of the Samsonite Corp.–Samsonite Company Stores–is filing for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy protection and a pre-packaged plan of reorganization. The company will “streamline its high street and regional mall store portfolio,” by closing roughly half of their 173 stores, according to a release. The store intends to focus its time on outlet stores, which it says have been more profitable.

Samsonite Company is estimating to be out of bankruptcy within a 45 to 90-day timeframe, utilizing the bankruptcy process to more easily exit existing, underperforming leases and begin paying back creditors. This is all being done in an effort to reduce costs company-wide, however Samsonite Corp. is not included in the Chapter 11 filing. The 45 to 90 day timeline stems from the pre-packaged plan of reorganization, which is a requirement of exiting Chapter 11. Samsonite filed this plan simultaneously with its bankruptcy filing, which will allow it to use the span of the bankruptcy to shore up expenses, close stores, then regain footing to pay back all its creditors in full and exit the bankruptcy process.

“The recession has caused a severe decline in consumers purchasing travel-related goods and the company has responded to this critical situation with a substantial restructuring program,” says Kyle Gendreau, secretary and treasurer of Samsonite Company Stores, LLC and CEO of Samsonite Corp., in a statement. “Realigning the company’s real estate portfolio will increase profitability, allowing us to further capitalize on growth opportunities and to secure the company’s future.”

As part of the filing, the day-to-day operations will still apply regularly, as far as honoring gift cards, warranties, returns, exchanges and the like, as not all of the stores will be closing. The company has identified 84 specific stores for closing, about 47% of its current frontage. The travel industry has taken a hit from the recession recently as hotel vacancies have risen and casinos are posting drastic declines, as consumers are increasingly holding onto their paychecks.

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