Modell's on Monday announced it was closing more than 15% of its footprint and seeking outside investment to help save the company, according to a company press release.
Unless the company can "appropriately restructure the leases," it will close 19 stores, a company spokesperson said in a statement emailed to Retail Dive, noting that five locations originally slated for closure will remain open thanks to negotiations with landlords.
CEO Mitchell Modell said in a statement that he is willing to sell a minority stake in the business. He appeared on Fox Business on Friday and said he hoped a viewer would "say I love the brand and want to invest."
After months of conversation about financial struggles at Modell's, and maneuvering with landlords and vendors to avoid bankruptcy, the retailer has announced the closure of 19 stores and a search for an outside investor.
Modell told Retail Dive earlier this month that the troubles started with the Wall Street Journal's report last March about the company hiring restructuring advisers, which damaged its relationship with vendors, as many refused to send needed merchandise to the retailer. That was the same story he told on Fox Business, noting that the company's credit rating was also downgraded as a result of the Wall Street Journal story.
A few weeks ago, Modell's confirmed that it had hired Berkeley Research Group and Cole Schotz for restructuring advice, and the store closures seem to be the fruits of those efforts. The company has managed to save five stores, and is "reviewing all of its stores and is in regular negotiations with its landlords to ensure that the business is profitable," according to a spokesperson.
In a video attached to the press release, Modell detailed letters that were sent out to vendors, landlords and factory communities asking for their continued support.
"If I get 90% cooperation, then I can show a path to success," he said in the video.
Modell also noted in the video that the search for outside investors was "a long shot" but that the company was putting every option on the table to save the company. Modell's operates in a crowded athletics market, with popular players like Lululemon and Nike focusing on direct-to-consumer sales, and the shadow of the Sports Authority bankruptcy not far in the rear-view mirror.
"We will do whatever it takes to save these stores and protect the communities that we have served and loved for generations," he said.