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Anchor Blue files for bankruptcy; will shut all stores, sell off inventory

The clothing chain originally called Miller's Outpost cites 'strong headwinds' from product promotions and discounts offered by larger retailers.

January 14, 2011|By Andrea Chang, Los Angeles Times

Teen clothing chain Anchor Blue Inc. has filed for bankruptcy again and will close all 117 stores, most of them in California.

The Corona chain began holding a going-out-of-business sale late last week, with markdowns of 40% to 60%, according to firms that have been hired to run the liquidation. The sale will continue until all merchandise is sold.

Founded four decades ago as Miller's Outpost, the chain specialized in selling jeans, casual wear and accessories.

By 1989 the popular family-oriented apparel chain had expanded to more than 300 stores in California, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico and other states.

Miller's Outpost helped turn casual wear into a fashion business and was the model for many retail chains, said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst at NPD Group.

Starting in the late 1990s, the company renamed its stores Anchor Blue to reflect its in-store brand and to better connect with trendy teen consumers who had become its core customer base. The chain competed heavily against other mall staples including Pacific Sunwear of California, American Eagle Outfitters and Old Navy, which hurt its business.

In May 2009, Anchor Blue filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, citing the economic downturn and its effects on consumer spending. It also said it would close dozens of stores and sell its outlet division, although business was expected to continue at its remaining locations.

Anchor Blue stores in California include locations at Los Cerritos Center, Westminster Mall and Stonewood Center in Downey.

All Anchor Blue stores will honor gift cards until Jan. 21. After that date, no returns or exchanges will be accepted on any merchandise. All items purchased during the liquidation sale will be final. The company is also selling the stores' fixtures such as apparel racks, lights and cabinets.

Anchor Blue said in a statement that it had continued to face "strong headwinds" from product promotions and discounts offered by larger retailers.

"Additional capital was injected into the business in November 2010 to help Anchor Blue through the holiday season, but the company suffered severe sales declines in December which further eroded its financial position."

andrea.chang@latimes.com

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