Struggling women's apparel retailer Christopher & Banks Corp. said Tuesday that it will close its store in Albert Lea and convert its Roseville location into one of its new  Christopher & Banks/CJ Banks "dual format" stores.

The Plymouth-based company also said it will close 69 stores across the country by the end of January 2012 and convert 25 locations into its dual format concept.

Earlier this month, Christopher & Banks said it will close 100 stores and that it had laid off fewer than 25 employees from its corporate headquarters and store operations.

The company is also seeking  to restructure its remaining leases. Overall, Christopher & Banks will take a $5 million to $7 million charge related to employee severance costs and terminating leases.

Coming off a disastrous fiscal 2011, when the company lost $22.2 million, its worst annual loss, the company had high hopes for a recovery based on a renewed focus on merchandising.

However, Christopher & Banks' new clothing lines have gotten off to a shaky start. CEO Larry Barenbaum said the retailer "overengineered" its apparel lines and priced the clothing too high.

For the first half of fiscal 2012, the company said sales dropped 3.2 percent to $220.1 million compared to the same period a year ago. Sales at stores open for at least a year, a key way to measure retail growth, declined 5 percent.

With just one store closing in Minnesota, it appears Christopher & Banks believes its home state offers one of its best chances at survival. By the end of the restructuring, the retailer will operate 680 stores in 44 states, including 45 in Minnesota.


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