Payless files for bankruptcy, closing North American stores

The shoe chain will close 2,500 stores.

 Payless Shoesource store at a mall in Independence, Mo.
A Payless Shoesource store at a mall in Independence, Missouri. –Charlie Riedel / AP, File

NEW YORK (AP) — Payless ShoeSource has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and is shuttering its remaining stores in North America.

The filing on Monday came a day after the shoe chain began holding going-out-of-business sales at its North American stores.

The company, based in Topeka, Kansas, updated the number of stores it is closing to 2,500, up from the 2,100 it cited on Friday when it confirmed it was planning to liquidate its business. It reiterated that stores will remain open until at least the end of March and the majority will remain open until May.

The liquidation doesn’t affect its franchise operations or its Latin American stores, which remain open for business as usual, it said.

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The debt-burdened chain filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection a first time in April 2017, closing hundreds of stores as part of its reorganization.

“The challenges facing retailers today are well documented, and unfortunately, Payless emerged from its prior reorganization ill-equipped to survive in today’s retail environment,” said Stephen Marotta, Payless ShoeSource’s chief restructuring officer.

He noted that the prior Chapter 11 proceedings left the company with too much debt and with too many stores.