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Forever 21 agrees to grab Gottschalks locations

May 22, 2009|Andrea Chang

After snapping up 14 former Mervyns leases last year, Forever 21 Inc. is at it again.

The Los Angeles retailer, known for its hip, affordable clothing, has agreed to buy three former Gottschalks stores and to take over as many as 14 of the bankrupt department store chain's leases, Forever 21 Executive Vice President Larry Meyer said Thursday.

"We're pleased with the opportunity to provide our fashion merchandise to a wider array of customers and to provide jobs at this difficult time," he said.

The deal would have to be approved during a bankruptcy auction scheduled for Thursday, and other parties can still submit higher offers. Among the leases that Forever 21 hopes to acquire are locations in Riverside, Bakersfield and Hemet, Meyer said.

The move is part of the retailer's push to expand into larger, big-box locations. Currently, most of Forever 21's roughly 450 stores are mall-based.

After filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in January, Gottschalks announced in March that it planned to liquidate. The 105-year-old Fresno chain sold fashion apparel, shoes, accessories and home merchandise through 55 department stores and three specialty apparel stores, mostly in California.

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andrea.chang@latimes.com

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