Payless emerges from bankruptcy with US growth plan, store reopenings

Payless ShoeSource — once America’s most ubiquitous discount shoe retailer — is planning a comeback.

The budget chain is emerging from bankruptcy protection on Thursday with plans to reopen some of the 2,100 stores that it had shuttered last year in the US.

Known for its affordable shoes, boots, sandals and accessories, Payless execs declined to say how many stores it might open in the US, where it once operated as many as 2,500 stores.

But this will be the second time the 64-year-old brand from Topeka, Kan., seeks to reinvent itself after a financial disaster.

Payless first filed for bankruptcy protection in 2017 with $435 million in debt. Eighteen months later it was back in bankruptcy court after being squeezed by discounters such as T.J. Max and DSW and $473 million in debt.

At the time it was controlled by hedge fund Alden Global Capital, which was its largest lender and controlled 66 percent of the company.

The new management team hails from licensing firm CAA-GBG and is led by that company’s former president, Jared Margolis.

“I am pleased to have the opportunity to lead this iconic retail brand into a new strategic phase with a strengthened balance sheet and clean financial outlook,” Margolis said in a statement.

The latest bankruptcy did not affect Payless’s overseas operations where franchisees control more than 700 stores in Latin America, the Middle East and Asia.

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