Express store in Oceanside is one of three Long Island...

Express store in Oceanside is one of three Long Island stores that will close. Credit: Howard Simmons

Express Inc. — once a trendsetter of casual office attire that now struggles to compete with the likes of Zara and H&M — has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

The company plans to close 95 of its Express stores, including three  on Long Island — at South Shore Mall in Bay Shore, the Sands Shopping Center in Oceanside and Green Acres Mall in Valley Stream, according to a bankruptcy court filing. 

The company also will close all 10 of its UpWest clothing and home goods stores, including one in the Roosevelt Field mall in Uniondale.

Closing sales at locations being shut down, which span across more than 30 states and Washington, D.C., are set to begin Tuesday. Beyond these closures, Express said that it expects to conduct business as usual.

On Monday, the Columbus, Ohio-based company announced that it received a nonbinding letter of intent from a group led by consumer brand acquisition and management firm WHP Global to potentially purchase the majority of its stores and operations. Express said that it had filed for Chapter 11 protection “to facilitate the sale process.”

The consortium exploring the deal also includes mall operators Simon Property Group and Brookfield Properties, Express said. WHP, Simon Property and Brookfield did not immediately respond to requests for comment Monday.

Express CEO Stewart Glendinning said WHP “has been a strong partner” of the company's since 2023 — adding that the proposed transaction would give Express additional financial resources and put it in a better position to grow profitably while maximizing value for stakeholders.

Beyond its UpWest storefronts, the company operates about 530 Express retail and Express Factory Outlet stores in the United States and Puerto Rico, in addition to roughly 60 Bonobos Guideshop locations, as well as online operations for these brands, according to Express’ website.

The closings will leave three Express stores on Long Island — at  Roosevelt Field, Walt Whitman Shops in Huntington and Smith Haven Mall in Lake Grove.

Also, there are three Express Factory Outlet stores on Long Island — in Broadway Commons in Hicksville and the Tanger Outlets in Deer Park and Riverhead.

Express Inc. did not respond to an inquiry about how many employees would be affected by the store closings.

The company currently employs about 9,300 people, of whom approximately 2,800 are full-time workers, according to a bankruptcy court filing.

Express reported nearly $1.2 billion in total debts and $1.3 billion in total assets as of March 2 in its Chapter 11 petition, which was filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware.

Founded in 1980, the company first started as a women's fashion purveyor and then branched out to menswear. It offered must-have items, like denim dresses for those looking for trendy outfits in the workplace, at affordable prices.

But increasing competition from fast-fashion players like H&M, as well as the rise of Old Navy and athleisure  brands like Lululemon, all hurt the brand's sales, said Neil Saunders, a managing director with research firm GlobalData. Saunders also noted that the brand was beset by quality issues, and the pandemic sped up the trend of people working from home, lessening the need for shoppers to buy work outfits.

“Everyone has been nibbling at Express from all sides, and Express doesn't have a defensible proposition,” Saunders said.

Express joins a handful of retailers filing for Chapter 11 so far this year, including fabrics and craft retailer Joann. And analysts expect the pace of bankruptcy filings this year to be around the same level — close to 24 — as last year, as shoppers hobbled by high consumer debt remain cautious, according to accounting and advisory firm BDO, which tracks retail bankruptcies.

In 2022, only five retailers filed for bankruptcy protection, according to BDO. The number appeared to indicate a recovery from the pandemic-induced store closures that pushed struggling companies over the edge in 2020, when retail bankruptcies spiked to 35 from 21 the year before, BDO said

Express said Monday that it has a commitment for $35 million in new financing, which is subject to court approval, from some existing lenders. That would add to the $49 million in cash that it obtained earlier this month from the Internal Revenue Service related to the pandemic-era CARES Act.

Express also announced a leadership update on Monday. Mark Still will become chief financial officer, effective immediately, after serving as interim CFO since November, the company said.

With Tory N. Parrish

Express Inc. will close 95 Express clothing stores, including three on Long Island:

  • South Shore Mall, 1701 Sunrise Hwy., Bay Shore
  • Sands Shopping Center, 3513 Long Beach Rd., Oceanside
  • Green Acres Mall, 1075 Green Acres, Valley Stream

The company also will close all 10 of its UpWest clothing and home goods stores, including one on Long Island:

  • Roosevelt Field, 630 Old Country Rd., Suite 1085, Uniondale
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