Published: Sat, April 22, 2017
U.S. | By Jeffery Vega

Bebe expects to close all it stores by the end of May

Bebe expects to close all it stores by the end of May

Clothing chain Bebe says it expects to close all its stores by the end of May, making it the latest casualty of the migration to online shopping. The chain had recently said it had more than 130 retail stores and more than 30 outlet stores in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico.

Bebe has not filed bankruptcy and didn't provide details on its future plans but it is reportedly considering the possibility of moving its business online only. It hired a real estate adviser to look into its lease holdings and a financial adviser to explore "strategic alternatives".

The company's sales for the first six months of its 2017 fiscal year, a period that ended December 31, totaled $189.2 million, down 13.5% from a year earlier. Companies including Wet Seal and Payless have filed bankruptcy.

But its stores have struggled with competition not only from e-commerce but also from the likes of fast-fashion retailers Zara, owned by Inditex of Spain, and H&M Hennes & Mauritz of Sweden.

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"One thing that Bebe has going for it is that it hasn't taken on loads of debt in a bid to survive", Forbes said.

Founded by CEO Manny Mashouf in San Francisco, 1976, the store drew its name from Shakespeare's phrase, "To be, or not to be". On Friday, Bebe announced it's closing all 175 stores across the country, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The chain specializes in what it calls "unique, sophisticated and timelessly sexy" contemporary clothing, and its velour tracksuits and tops with "bebe" printed in studded rhinestones once helped give it a popular cachet.

Shares of Bebe rose 6.4% to close at $4.

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