Claire's Stores Inc., an Illinois-based company best known for selling tween fashion accessories and piercing millions of ears at the mall, Monday joined a long list of U.S. retailers that have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
In its bankruptcy filing, the chain said its stores will remain open as it restructures its nearly $1.9 billion debt.
In the filing, company officials pointed to lower customer traffic at shopping malls, where it said 99 percent of its stores are located, as being one of the chain's key challenges.
On Long Island, there are at least nine Claire's locations from Hicksville to Bridgehampton, seven of which are found inside malls.
The company filing listed 92 stores slated to close in the United States and Puerto Rico. The list included three locations in New York State but none on Long Island.
Claire's core business is unique because it's linked to a service that can't be done via the Internet: ear piercing, said Claire's senior vice president of marketing, Melanie Berry. She also said the scheduled store closures are "business as usual" for the chain of 7,500 stores.
Stores are evaluated periodically, and underperforming ones are closed, she said.
"We are generating strong business results, but we are burdened by debt," Berry said. "As a result of new partnerships, we expect our concessions business to grow...we are expanding, not shrinking."
Berry confirmed Claire's has reached a deal with "a national American pharmacy chain," which she declined to name but has been identified by the Wall Street Journal as CVS. She said Claire's merchandise is now being sold at a variety of the pharmacy's locations nationwide.
She said a similar deal with a "national American supermarket chain" is in the works.
In a similar intiative, "Claire's Shops" are found inside three Long Island Toys R Us locations. The toy retailer announced last week that it would liquidate its stores after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last year.