The New York Post reported earlier this month that Avenue had 60 days to find a buyer, or it would have to shut down its 260 stores.Store-level managers at two separate Avenue stores reached out to Retail Dive with information about the notice to employees, and employees at two additional stores independently confirmed that they found out all stores were closing.
There has been no public confirmation of the store closures, and it is unclear whether the e-Commerce site will be affected. The plus-size retailer is working with Hilco Global to conduct its going-out-of-business sales through September. Employees have been instructed not to accept customer returns or sell gift cards, the report said.
In April, Avenue underwent a “strategic recapitalization” with a $45 million loan from PNC Bank, meant to finance the retailer’s capital needs and strategic initiatives. Avenue’s owner, private equity firm Versa Capital Management, also provided a new, undisclosed amount of capital at that time.
There have been recent rumblings of individual store closings from local media outlets in recent months. New Jersey document filings confirmed that Avenue will let go of 152 employees, effective Sept. 30, related to the Rochelle Park, N.J. location.
Versa acquired Avenue in a bankruptcy auction in 2012, when the retailer operated 433 stores. In May 2018, Avenue named a new CEO, Mark Walsh, a board member who had been advising the company since 2017.
Avenue’s difficulties are likely similar to other retailers such as Ascena Retail’s plus-size Lane Bryant and Catherine’s businesses, or bankrupt-and-back FullBeauty. As more consumers want diverse, inclusive clothing options and sizes and more major brands increase their sizing spectrum in response, brands that specialize in specific size ranges lose their point of differentiation.