Express Goes Bankrupt With Planned Sale to WHP, Store Closures

Express Goes Bankrupt With Planned Sale to WHP, Store Closures

Express Goes Bankrupt With Planned Sale to WHP, Store Closures

By Eliza Ronalds-HannonJanine Phakdeetham, and Claire Boston

Express Inc., the clothing retailer that’s a staple in US malls, filed for bankruptcy with plans to sell itself.

The company received an offer from brand manager WHP Global and mall landlords Simon Property Group Inc. and Brookfield Properties to purchase the company’s operations and most of its stores, according to a statement on Monday. The company will use the bankruptcy process to facilitate the sale.

WHP Global, based in New York and backed by Ares Management Corp., owns a portfolio of brands including Toys “R” Us, Isaac Mizrahi and Rag & Bone. The firm holds a 60% stake in the Express brand through a joint venture formed in 2023.

Columbus, Ohio-based Express plans to close around 95 of its more than 500 retail stores, along with all of its UpWest locations. Closing sales will begin on Tuesday. The company said in the statement that it will “continue to assess its store footprint” and is working with A&G Realty Partners on that process.

Court papers filed in Delaware listed liabilities and assets of $1 billion to $10 billion each. The Chapter 11 filing allows Express to continue operating while it works out a way to repay them. The retailer arranged $35 million in new financing from existing lenders to fund itself in bankruptcy. It also said it received $49 million from the Internal Revenue Service related to the CARES Act in April.

The more-than 40-year-old company was once a top destination for Millennials seeking moderately priced officewear and going out clothes. But in recent years, it’s faced slumping revenues as it struggled to compete with upstart online brands and changing consumer tastes. Last year, Express said it hired external advisers to help cut costs just weeks after agreeing to buy men’s apparel brand Bonobos Inc. alongside WHP Global.

It’s the latest in a long string of retail bankruptcies including 99 Cents Only Stores earlier this month and arts and crafts chain Joann Inc. in March.

The case is Express Inc., 24-10831, US Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware.