Belk files for bankruptcy but plans to keep stores open

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WTVD) -- A 133-year-old North Carolina retail icon has filed for bankruptcy amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Belk announced Tuesday that it plans to restructure financially under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.

The company hopes to complete the reorganization by the end of February.

"Belk has a 130-year legacy of providing quality products at great prices," said Lisa Harper, Belk CEO. "Like all retailers navigating COVID-19, our priority has been the safety of our associates, customers and communities. As the ongoing effects of the pandemic have continued, we've been assessing potential options to protect our future. We're confident that this agreement puts us on the right long-term path toward significantly reducing our debt and providing us with greater financial flexibility to meet our obligations and to continue investing in our business, including further enhancements and additions to Belk's omnichannel capabilities."

Belk plans to keep its stores and website open through the bankruptcy process.

Charlotte-based Belk Inc. opened its first store in 1888 and now operates nearly 300 Belk stores in 16 Southeastern states, including 65 in North Carolina.

According to our newsgathering partners at the News & Observer, the 2015 sale of the longtime family-controlled company to Sycamore Partners loaded the chain with more than $2 billion in debt at a time when department stores across the country were rapidly losing popularity. Sycamore will remain the majority stakeholder after the reorganization
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