The Limited Files For Bankruptcy, Shutters Online Store (For Now)

The retail slaughter continues on in 2017 with its latest victim: after shutting down all 250 remaining stores Jan. 8, The Limited has filed for bankruptcy and has shuttered its online store — for now, at least.

Limited Stores LLC, the chain’s parent, filed for Chapter 11 on Tuesday, Reuters reports. The brand — like so many others before it — has blamed declining mall traffic, falling sales, expensive leases, and online shopping for its demise.

There is a strong chance that while the stores may be closed, the brand could live on as an online-only presence: an affiliate of private equity firm Sycamore Partners has put up a $25.7 million “stalking horse” bid for the company’s intellectual property — that includes trademarks, website address, and social media accounts — which acts as a minimum bid for an asset in an auction. The Limited says it hopes to hold an auction of assets within 30 days.

Sycamore Partners “could acquire the brand and sell the merchandise over the internet without having any stores,” retail analyst Chris Boring told The Columbus Dispatch. “That would be the reason why they bought the intellectual property: They continue the e-commerce site.”

For the moment, there’s a message on TheLimited.com reading, “We’ll be back soon! The Limited.com is down temporarily. Check back soon. We’ll be back up and running as soon as possible.”

Sycamore Partners has pulled this move in the past, scooping up the intellectual property of women’s apparel chain Coldwater Creek when it filed for bankruptcy in 2014. All the chain’s stores ultimately shut down, but the brand continues to sell clothing online.

The Limited is far from alone in the bankruptcy club: Aeropostale filed for bankruptcy but was saved by a group of mall landlords, Pacific Sunwear filed for Chapter 11 with a restructuring plan to keep stores open last April, Golfsmith sold its assets to Dick’s Sporting Goods, and Sports Authority shut down a long list of stores as part of its bankruptcy.

Wet Seal may re-enter the club as well, as reports have indicated it could file for bankruptcy for the second time in two years.