The Gindis, family of the founder of New York off-price icon Century 21, on Wednesday outlined a comeback for the storied retailer this year after buying back its intellectual property out of bankruptcy.
While that includes a return to New York, the first store to open will be abroad, in Busan, South Korea, this summer. An international expansion was in the works before the retailer's bankruptcy last year.
The retailer tapped a new president to oversee the relaunch, according to a press release. Marc Benitez has experience with global expansion at Coach and Kenneth Cole and began his retail career at Century 21 more than 20 years ago in the children's department at the downtown flagship.
Century 21 was forced into bankruptcy court after a dispute with insurers over covering the costs of the pandemic. The iconic retailer may be back in business as hopes rise that the pandemic will get under control.
The off-price luxury retailer is working to pick up where it left off, dusting off its international expansion plans and determined to once again set up shop in New York City. "Never count out a New Yorker," the company said in a statement, adding that its return is "in response to the outpouring of love from the Big Apple and the admiration of their loyal shoppers from around the world."
The company's once relatively robust digital operations were a rare element in off-price. The online channel, which players shirk in favor a store-based treasure hunt, has been a boon for many retailers despite the added costs of fulfillment as the pandemic continues to keep many shoppers out of stores even when they're open. But how to return online is still being evaluated, Benitez said.
"This relaunch is giving us time to reevaluate how and where we were operating before and formulate a new strategy for the future," he said by email. "Where and when we open both on and offline are critical to this strategy but are still being discussed."
While it's unclear whether the store would return to the vicinity of its downtown Cortlandt Street location — its iconic 60-year-old store that was destroyed by the 9/11 attack, but rebuilt in the same area — the plan is to open again in the city this year, the company said. The retailer may find rents down and landlords amenable to negotiation as the pandemic has emptied many urban shopping districts of the office workers and tourists that traditionally support them.