Eddie Bauer
cuts hit Oahu

The bankrupt retailer is closing
60 stores, including its only
Hawaii outlet at Ala Moana Center

The Eddie Bauer clothing store in Ala Moana Center, just over 3 years old, will close as part of the bankruptcy reorganization of its parent, Spiegel Inc.

No date has been set for closing the 6,300-square-foot store on the center's third level but it is likely to be within the next few months, said Lisa Erickson, a spokeswoman at Eddie Bauer headquarters in Seattle.

"They have to identify a liquidator and get sales in motion," Erickson said.

The store opened for business March 25, 2000, holding its grand opening three days later. It was welcomed as the first retail outlet in the islands for a company that had done a lot of mail-order business in Hawaii.

Its line of outdoor-related denims, sport shirts, T-shirts, footwear, flashlights, backpacks and other goods was anticipated as a good fit with the lifestyle of Hawaii residents and visitors.

But now it is one of 60 Eddie Bauer stores that Spiegel, doing business as The Spiegel Group, has declared "under-performing" and headed for the chopping block.

The 60 stores will be closed one at a time, as inventory sales are completed in each store, Spiegel said in a statement.

There are 529 Eddie Bauer stores in the United States and Canada, including 382 apparel stores, 45 home stores selling furniture and bedding and related items, and 102 outlet stores.

The closings include 51 apparel stores, eight home stores and one outlet store. There is only one Eddie Bauer store in Hawaii, the Ala Moana apparel shop, which employs about 10 people.

Ala Moana had been negotiating with Eddie Bauer over lease terms before the company went into bankruptcy. The center was aware that Bauer's sales "weren't doing all that good," said Dwight Yoshimura, Hawaii general manager for General Growth Properties Inc., owner of Ala Moana Center and Victoria Ward.

Bauer is not the only retailer that has had trouble maintaining sales levels since 9/11, he said. Yoshimura said he had not heard late yesterday of the announcement that the Ala Moana store is on the shutdown list. There are other merchants interested in the space, he said.

Spiegel filed March 17 for protection from creditors under Chapter 11 of the bankruptcy law. It listed assets of $1.74 billion and liabilities of $1.71 billion. The company said it has received $400 million in debtor-in-possession financing.

The Spiegel Group's activities include the Eddie Bauer and Newport News brands and the Spiegel catalog.

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