Thursday, November 5, 2009

Borders to Close 200 Walden Outlets in January


Reprinted with permission of Publishers Weekly

By Jim Milliot -- Publishers Weekly, 11/5/2009 

Borders Group is accelerating the pace of closing stores in its Waldenbooks Specialty Retail group, announcing Thursday that it will shut approximately 200 outlets in January. The retailer has been steadily closing its mall-based stores since 2001 and will have about 130 mall stores after the downsizing is completed. Stores to be closed fall under the Waldenbooks, Borders Express and Borders Outlet names. Superstores are not part of the downsizing nor is the company’s mall kiosk business and airport stores.
Borders CEO Ron Marshall said that “through this right-sizing, we will reduce the number of stores with operating losses, reduce our overall rent expense and lease-adjusted leverage and generate cash flow through sales and working capital reductions.” The closing will result in the elimination of about 1,500 jobs, the majority of which, Borders said, are part-time positions.A company spokesperson said the stores slated for closing "will be fully stocked for the holidays," but will begin clearance sales in mid-December that will run into January. She had no comment on the total amount of sales generated by the stores targeted for closure.
The company also said it plans to integrate the remaining Walden stores into its superstore computer system to create a single platform. Despite attempts to merge the two operations in the past, Borders and Walden have always operated on separate systems, much to the frustration of publishers. The spokesperson said the company hopes to have the stores moved into superstores' inventory and point of sale system within the first quarter.


Commenting on the closing, Simon & Schuster CEO Carolyn Reidy said she is "never happy to see the number of outlets diminished." She added, however, that if closing the stores helps to strengthen Borders, the move is a positive one.