Century 21 Stores on Thursday said it will wind down its retail operations after 60 years in business, after filing for Chapter 11 in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York.
The off-price innovator plans going-out-of-business sales at its 13 stores across New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Florida, according to a company press release.
The company blamed nonpayment by its insurers of some $175 million in claims, which it says were "due under policies put in place to protect against losses stemming from business interruption such as that experienced as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic."
It was a great relief to New Yorkers when Century 21 survived the 9/11 attacks — the retailer famously rebuilt its Manhattan flagship in the same area where it had been destroyed.
Now the privately held company says that the same insurance that helped it hang on then has failed to come through. Century 21 has given up on its claims, withdrawing a lawsuit against its insurers and taking to bankruptcy court instead, per the release.
"While insurance money helped us to rebuild after suffering the devastating impact of 9/11, we now have no viable alternative but to begin the closure of our beloved family business because our insurers, to whom we have paid significant premiums every year for protection against unforeseen circumstances like we are experiencing today, have turned their backs on us at this most critical time," Century 21 co-CEO Raymond Gindi, a son of the founders, said in a statement.
The retailer had expanded and updated in recent years, enjoying the fruits of one of retail's best performing sectors despite operating on a much smaller scale than off-price rivals TJX and Ross. Unlike some off-pricers Century 21 runs an e-commerce site in addition to its brick-and-mortar stores.