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Home-Decor Retailer Pier 1 Looks To Close For Good

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Photo by Nati Harnik AP

Bankrupt Pier 1 could not find a buyer during the coronavirus pandemic. Now it's asking the bankruptcy court to approve a complete liquidation of the chain.

Pier 1 Imports — one of America's most prominent home-decor chains — is packing it in.

The company, known for its colorful housewares and wicker furniture, declared bankruptcy in February. The coronavirus pandemic forced temporary closures of its approximately 540 stores and dashed its hopes of a recovery.

"This decision follows months of working to identify a buyer who would continue to operate our business going forward," Pier 1's CEO and Chief Financial Officer Robert Riesbeck said in a statement. "Unfortunately, the challenging retail environment has been significantly compounded by the profound impact of COVID-19, hindering our ability to secure such a buyer and requiring us to wind down."

Pier 1 is now asking the bankruptcy court to approve "an orderly wind-down" as soon as its stores are able to reopen. That would include a complete sale of its inventory, intellectual property and other assets through a court-supervised process.

The chain, which started with a single store in 1962, was already on track to halve its store count. It's been struggling to compete against a rising tide of home-decor offerings, often at cheaper prices, by competitors such as Target, Walmart, Amazon, Wayfair and TJ Maxx.

The coronavirus pandemic has devastated "nonessential" retail stores and cut sales at furniture and home furnishings stores by more than half.

"Our first customers were post-World War II baby boomers looking for beanbag chairs, love beads and incense," Pier 1's online history says. "Pier 1 has carried a wide selection of merchandise through the years, from chocolate-covered ants to clothing lines to life-size Spanish suits of armor."

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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