Wednesday, Feb 21, 2018
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Bon-Ton to close 42 stores; Toledo's Elder-Beerman safe for now

Bon-Ton Stores Inc., the parent firm of Elder-Beerman department stores, said Wednesday that it will close 42 stores starting Feb. 1, including the Elder-Beerman store at the Northtowne Mall in Defiance and the Elder-Beerman at the Adrian Mall in Michigan.

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The Elder-Beerman at the Woodville Mall in Northwood before its closing in 2009. Bon-Ton has announced it will close 42 more stores, including businesses in Defiance and Adrian.

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Toledo’s Elder-Beerman store at 3301 Secor Rd. was not on the list of store closures announced Wednesday by Milwaukee-based Bon-Ton. Bon-Ton told Wall Street analysts this month that it planned to close more than 40 of its 260 stores in 2018 — and place 20 more stores on a performance “watch list.”

Stores on the watch list are undisclosed but would be monitored “for signs of further deterioration” and presumably closed later if they do not improve.

Bon-Ton’s list of 42 closures, plus five more previously announced, are part of its “store-rationalization program” across all seven of its department store brands.

The department store chain is in ongoing negotiations with lenders, having recently entered into a forbearance agreement after failing to meet a deadline for debt payments. Its struggles have put the company on many analysts’ bankruptcy-alert lists.

“As part of the comprehensive turnaround plan we announced in November, we are taking the next steps in our efforts to move forward with a more productive store footprint,” Bill Tracy, president and chief executive officer of Bon-Ton, said in announcing the closings. “We remain focused on executing our key initiatives to drive improved performance in an effort to strengthen our capital structure to support the business going forward.”

The CEO thanked customers who supported the locations to be closed and affected employees.

Bon-Ton will use liquidator Hilco Merchant Resources to manage closing sales that begin Thursday and will last 10 to 12 weeks. Employees will be offered interviews for any available positions at other stores.

Contact Jon Chavez at jchavez@theblade.com or 419-724-6128.

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