Payless ShoeSource, the parent company of two St. Thomas and one St. Croix Payless Shoes stores, announced Wednesday it has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and is immediately closing about 400 of its roughly 4,400 stores worldwide. The three V.I. stores are not on the list of stores to be closed thus far.
“This is a difficult, but necessary, decision driven by the continued challenges of the retail environment, which will only intensify,” Payless CEO W. Paul Jones said in a statement.
Chapter 11 protections were approved Wednesday by Judge Kathy A. Surratt-States of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, according to a statement from the company.
The court gave authorization for Payless to keep paying wages and benefits to employees and pay certain vendors and suppliers for all authorized goods and services. It also authorized interim financial arrangements related to the company’s outstanding debt.
“As a result of today’s hearing, all Payless stores and Payless.com will be able to continue offering without interruption the wide range of affordably priced family footwear for which they are relied on by families across America,” company officials said in a statement Wednesday.
According to the company, Payless ShoeSource is the largest specialty family footwear retailer in the Western Hemisphere. with stores in more than 30 countries. It was founded in 1956 in Topeka, Kansas, where its global headquarters is located.