- On Monday plus-size apparel retailer Avenue filed a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) notice with the Department of Labor and Workforce Development in New Jersey for its Rochelle Park location, saying it will let go 152 employees effective Sept. 30, according to document filings. WARN requires employers to provide 60 days advance notice of closings and mass layoffs.
- The New York Post reported last week that the retailer has 60 days to find a buyer or all of its stores will close, a number the paper put at 260. Sourcing Journal also reported on Aug. 2 that stores are closing, although it did not indicate how many.
- When asked about the closures, Versa Capital Management, the private equity firm that owns Avenue, said in a statement emailed to Retail Dive, “We remain focused on Avenue as a retail destination for style-minded, plus-size women."
Although there are hints at what is happening behind the scenes at the apparel retailer, the entire financial picture is unclear.
News has been trickling out this summer regarding specific location closures. In July, SouthCoast Today reported that Avenue’s Dartmouth, Massachusetts location in the Faunce Corner Road plaza was plastered with signs reading "50% Off Everything/Closing This Location." Last week The Citizens’ Voice reported that an Avenue store in the Arena Hub Plaza in Wilkes-Barre Township, Pennsylvania, will close.
The plus-size market has been going through a time of change within apparel, as many companies begin to extend size ranges. According to NPD Group's Consumer Tracking Service, one-third of female consumers identify as plus size. More retailers have started to wake up to the market segment, including Nordstrom, Target, Anthropologie and J. Crew via its partnership with Universal Standard.
Increased competition may be part of Avenue's apparent challenge. Banners like Avenue, Lane Bryant and Catherine's might be bumping into difficulties due to hyper-specialization as consumers want to be able to shop for apparel anywhere, versus in a store that covers only one category.
In an interview last year with Retail Dive, Jane Hali, CEO of investment research firm Jane Hali & Associates said, "The plus-size divisions are in trouble because research has shown that this customer does not want to feel isolated and shop in a store devoted to plus size."
According to its website, Avenue currently has approximately 300 stores.
Clarification: Language was updated to clarify Versa Capital Management's spokesperson.