The Hermiston Bealls has been advertising a change to a Gordmans, also owned by parent company Stage, but Stage filed May 10 for bankruptcy protection, unable to climb out of a financial hole the COVID-19 pandemic made even deeper.

The parent company of Bealls and other department stores filed May 10 for bankruptcy protection, unable to climb out of a financial hole the COVID-19 pandemic made even deeper.

Houston-based Stage Stores Inc. in a press release also announced it will simultaneously seek buyers for all or parts of its business and “initiate an orderly wind-down of operations.”

The company did not return requests for comment on how the move affects the Hermiston Bealls, which before the COVID-19 shutdown of nonessential retailers in Oregon was transforming into a Gordmans store, also owned by Stage.

The company operates Bealls, Goody’s and Palais Royal, primarily in rural communities, and off-price stores under the Gordmans brand, and employs approximately 14,700 people at roughly 700 stores across 42 states, according to the court documents it filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Houston, its base of operations.

Bealls has a few stores in Oregon, including in La Grande, Hermiston, Klamath Falls and Hood River. The La Grande store opened in 2009. Stage Stores closed its properties due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Signs on the inside of the windows at the La Grande Bealls explain the store remains closed until the state lifts the restrictions to curb the spread of the virus.

Stage Stores in its press release stated it is taking a phased approach to reopening its stores in the coming weeks to liquidate inventory.

The company anticipates reopening 624 stores this month and the “balance of the chain” on June 4. Stage Stores also will end the wind-down at certain locations if it receives a viable going-concern bid.

The company’s Chapter 11 filing listed total assets as of Nov. 2, 2019 at more than $1.7 billion and total liabilities at a little more than $1 billion. The company owes more than $3.6 million to Nike Inc., its top creditor, and almost $487,000 to its 50th-ranked creditor, the footwear company Caleres Inc. of Missouri.

Michael Glazer, Stage Stores president and CEO, in the press release stated the company has no more avenues to pursue save for seeking Chapter 11 protection.

“Over the last several months, we had been taking significant steps to attempt to strengthen our financial position and find an independent path forward,” according to the statement. “However, the increasingly challenging market environment was exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which required us to temporarily close all of our stores and furlough the vast majority of our associates. Given these conditions, we have been unable to obtain necessary financing and have no choice but to take these actions.”

The company also filed a slew of motions seeking court orders to continue to operate, including the ability to pay employee wages, salaries and health benefits. Stage Stores in its press release also reported it “expects to honor existing customer programs, including gift cards and returns, for the first 30 days after a store reopens.”

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