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Business Observer Monday, Jan. 14, 2019 9 months ago

Retailer plans to shutter 250 stores

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Chico’s FAS plans to close locations from its network in the next three years.

FORT MYERS — The balance between brick and mortar and online and TV-based sales continues to shake out at Fort Myers-based women’s retailer Chico’s FAS.

The chain, in its latest move, announced plans to close at least 250 stores in the U.S. over a three-year period. The closings will be across the company’s three brands — Chico’s, Soma and White House | Black Market — and are weighted to years two and three, officials state in a release. The company currently operates some 1,400 stores nationally.

Chico’s, the release states, “made the strategic decision to rebalance the mix between its physical store presence with its digital network,” for a combination of factors.

On the digital side, the company’s investments in technology, including a buy-online, pick-up in store option; a shared inventory system; and partnerships with ShopRunner, Amazon and QVC, has “made significant progress,” the release states. Meanwhile, what the company calls “a right-sizing” of the fleet, the release states, will allow it to take advantage of “its lease expiration cadence, while improving profitability and return on invested capital.”

The company, according to the Jan. 11 statement, also plans to conduct an expanded review of all operations.

“Our focus is on implementing those initiatives that drive the greatest levels of growth and profitability of our business,” Chico’s FAS President and CEO Shelley Broader says in the statement. “This includes continued improvement in each of our differentiated brands, increased flexibility and efficiency across our organization, and fully leveraging the capabilities of our robust omnichannel platform to meet the ever-evolving needs of our customers and to enhance shareholder value.”

Chico’s had $2.28 billion in sales in 2017.

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