Bebe Reportedly Closing Stores, Going Online Only

Image courtesy of Phillip Pessar

Women’s apparel chain bebe is reportedly the latest retailer leaving the mall behind. But instead of completely closing shop like The Limited and WetSeal, the company plans to take its business online only. 

Bloomberg, citing people familiar with the situation, reports that the move is the chain’s attempt to drum up sales and avoid bankruptcy.

In order to leave its bricks-and-mortar business behind, however, the company will have to negotiate leases for its 170 locations. If discussions don’t go well, the sources caution, the retail may have to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

The California-based retailer, which was created in 1976 and caters to “the confident, sexy, modern woman,” doesn’t have significant debt, Bloomberg reports, adding that the company has lost more than $200 million over the past several years.

Bebe isn’t the first retailer to shift its focus online.

In November, Kenneth Cole announced it would close all of its outlet stores, leaving just two retail locations and its online store open.

Teen retailer dEliA*s rebounded from its 2014 bankruptcy to April 2015 by announcing it would launch an online-only store. In Sept. 2015, Macy’s revived Filene’s Basement as an online only store.