Add BCBG to the list of apparel chains whose stores will disappear from many shopping malls in 2017.
The California-based firm BCBG Max Azria Group Inc. is shuttering about 120 stores, primarily in the U.S., including its three remaining stand-alone boutiques in Minnesota.
The stores, which sell higher-end women's apparel and accessories, have started liquidation sales that are expected to last eight to 10 weeks. The company's two stores at the Mall of America, one under the BCBGeneration brand and the other called BCBGMaxazria, are among those closing. So is a store at Albertville Premium Outlets.
"These stores either are unprofitable or have untenable lease agreements," Seth Lubove, a spokesman for BCBG, said in a statement.
The company did not disclose how many stores it has, but Bloomberg recently reported it has more than 570 worldwide, including more than 175 in the U.S. The store closings represent less than a third of the chain's U.S. stores, Lubove said.
BCBG's mini-shops inside of Macy's — including those at Rosedale Center, Southdale Center, Ridgedale Center, Burnsville Center and Maplewood Mall — will remain intact. A stand-alone store at the Galleria in Edina closed last year.
BCBG was founded by designer Max Azria and is a brand that has often been worn by celebrities. As sales have been pressured by online shopping, the fashion house is repositioning itself to have fewer stores while expanding its online presence and maintaining boutiques inside other stores and other wholesale and licensing agreements.
"Like so many other great brands, BCBG has been negatively impacted by the growth in online sales and shifts in customer shopping patterns and, as a result, has too large a physical retail footprint," BCBG said last month when it disclosed restructuring plans.
The number of stores closing was disclosed recently. "In order to remain viable, the company, like so many others in its industry, must realign its business to effectively compete in today's shopping environment," the company said.
BCBG is the latest retailer to shutter a sizable portion of its store portfolio in what has been a rough start to 2017 for many companies. The Limited and Wet Seal are closing or have already closed all of their stores nationwide following bankruptcies. American Apparel also is preparing to close all of its physical stores in coming weeks. And Macy's is planning to shutter about 100 stores, including its flagship store on Nicollet Mall.
The shift to online shopping is one of the major forces causing the upheaval, as is consumers' preference for fast-fashion chains such as Zara and H&M as well as off-price concepts such as T.J. Maxx.
The Rockport shoe store at the Mall of America, open for more than 20 years, also is closing. The family that runs it used to also operate stores at Rosedale and Ridgedale. The MOA location is its last.
"Brick and mortar is not necessarily gaining any more customers these days," said Kelsey Klein, who runs the store with her family. "We just decided it was time for us to move out and get out while we're ahead."
She added that it was one of the last Rockport stores left in the Midwest. The brand is also sold online and can also be found at department stores such as Macy's.
Another casualty at the Mall of America is Deck the Walls, the art and framing store. It closed at the end of January, according to its Facebook page.