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Lanz of California to Close Retail Stores : Apparel: The 55-year- old firm, once popular with film stars, hangs it up. Lanz will continue as a manufacturer.

July 27, 1993|GEORGE WHITE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Lanz of California Inc., the sales arm of a longtime Southland apparel manufacturer, said Monday that it is closing its 14 stores in the state and withdrawing from retailing after about 55 years in the business.

The company announced its store-closing plans in a news release but did not provide a schedule for the closings and declined to discuss the fate of those employed at the stores.

Company officials acknowledged that California's poor economy influenced their decision to close the stores.

Nationwide, apparel sales have been flat this year. However, sales in California are down about 6% thus far in 1993, compared to last year, said Alan Millstein, a New York-based apparel analyst.

"The weak state economy has hurt all California retailers," Millstein said. "However, Lanz has been hurt by specialty retailers who have been engaged in constant price cutting and sales promotions."

The retailer is affiliated with Lanz Inc., a privately held Culver City-based women's apparel manufacturer that supplies goods to about 3,000 U.S. stores. Lanz Inc., known for its sleepwear gowns and dresses, will continue to produce clothing for its retail clients in the United States and abroad.

Alexis Scharff, president of Lanz Inc., indicated that the retail chain is being closed because the company wants to concentrate on its manufacturing and distribution operations.

"While the closure of the retail operation was an extremely unpleasant event, we choose to view this as a positive move, as many of the facilities and staff of Lanz Inc. were utilized by Lanz of California Inc.--which distracted us from concentrating on the growing segment of our business," Scharff said in a written statement.

The decision ends a retail legacy that began when brothers Werner and Kurt Scharff opened a store on a then-unpaved Wilshire Boulevard in 1938. The store, which offered ski equipment and women's apparel, was popular with some of the film stars associated with 20th Century Fox and Metro Goldwyn Mayer.

That store--located at 6160 Wilshire Blvd.--will be closed some time next week, said Christopher Scharff, vice president of Lanz of California.

The retailer is "in the process" of closing some other Southland stores because there "were double-digit sales declines," Christopher Scharff said. However, the company provided no information on the sales record of its stores in Northern California.

In the Southland, the Lanz of California chain includes stores in Pasadena, Long Beach, Newport Beach and Los Angeles. The company has also operated stores in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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