Forever 21, the low-price fast-fashion chain, is ceasing all operations in Canada.
The Los Angeles-based company announced Sunday that it has filed for bankruptcy in both the U.S. and Canada.
The “wind-down” of the Canadian arm is part of plans to restructure and refocus the business. The retailer currently employs approximately 2,000 people at its 44 locations across Canada.
“Forever 21 has made the difficult decision to discontinue further financial and operational support for Forever 21 Canada as we reposition the brand and global business to adapt to the current retail environment,” the company said in a statement to Global News.
Here’s what Canadian shoppers need to know about the closures.
When will stores close?
Forever 21 Canada has locations in Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia.
A spokesperson told Global News that all 44 stores will close before the end of the year.
The Canadian subsidiary, under creditor protection, plans to “conduct a responsible, controlled and orderly wind-down of the Canadian business.”
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A specific timeline of closures was not provided. It’s not clear whether some stores will close sooner than others.
What about online shopping and gift cards?
Canadian customers will still be able to shop online once stores close, though it will be from a U.S. website.
“Canadian customers can continue to shop our curated assortment of merchandise on our U.S. website,” said the spokesperson.
As for gift cards, customers will have until the end of Oct. 15, 2019 to use existing cards at Canadian locations.
No further gift cards will be sold from Canada as of Sept. 30.
There is “potential” that Canadian customers could use existing, unused gift cards at remaining stores in the States, the spokesperson said, but that has not yet been determined.
“More information will be provided shortly,” she said.
When will liquidation sales start?
So far, a firm date hasn’t been set on when liquidation sales will start.
“It will begin imminently,” a spokesperson said Monday morning.
When it does begin, all sales will be final.
“However, Forever 21 Canada will honour its existing return and exchange policy up to, and including, Oct. 15, 2019 for all goods purchased on or before Oct. 7, 2019.”
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The store routinely has items at discounted prices and on clearance.
At the time of publication, the store’s website was touting a sale with prices as low as $2.
What about other stores?
The focus will turn to the company’s U.S. operations.
The company expects 178 of its stores to close, but a significant number will stay open. While it doesn’t list the locations of the stores, the company says it does not anticipate to exit any major American markets.
“We have requested approval to close up to 178 stores across the U.S.,” the company said. “The decisions as to which domestic stores will be closing are ongoing, pending the outcome of continued conversations with landlords.”
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Founded in 1984, the American retailer has joined a growing list of brick-and-mortar brands that have buckled under the weight of online shopping.
“We had hoped for a different outcome,” Bradley Sell, the chief financial officer for Forever 21 Canada, said in a statement.
“But after years of poor performance and challenges set forth by the headwinds facing the retail industry today, our Canadian operations are simply no longer economically viable.”
The teen retailer also plans to close most stores in Asia and Europe but will keep some doors open in Mexico and Latin America.
— With files from Reuters