Payless Relaunches in North America After Closing Over 2,000 US Stores and Filing for Bankruptcy

In January, Payless announced that a new management team would attempt to reintroduce the affordable shoe retailer to US markets after filing for bankruptcy twice

The entrance to Payless ShoeSource at the Coastland Center Shopping Mall.
Photo: Jeffrey Greenberg/UIG/Getty

Payless has officially returned to the North American market after filing for bankruptcy in April 2017 and again in February 2019.

The footwear retailer announced in January that a new management team would attempt to reintroduce the affordable shoe retailer to US markets after closing over 2,000 stores across the country. Today, it relaunched with an E-commerce platform and new brick-and-mortar stores as part of the strategic emergence from bankruptcy.

Payless is also formally dropping “Shoesource” from the brand name and plans to roll out 300-500 free standing stores across North America over the next five years, according to a press release.

The new locations will feature technology that merges “design with onsite digital components,” the release states, including smart mirrors, touchscreen wall panels and a first-of-its kind Augmented Reality foot comparison chart.

Despite the restructuring and updated store designs, the footwear retailer says it is still committed to “providing value” to customers “across a range of apparel, accessories, and footwear."

"We're back and bringing more community responsibility, fashion-forward footwear, and on-trend partnerships to our 60M+ Payless customers who have missed us," Payless CEO Jared Margolis said in a statement. "We saw an opportunity for the brand to relaunch into the US market, providing our community with the affordable, value driven products they've always searched for, now across multiple categories, at a time when value couldn't be more critical. Payless is for everyone, and now more than ever, the world needs to pay-less. We are so excited to bring Payless back to you, so you and future generations to come can lead the way forward."

Payless also launched an initiative called "Powered by Payless" to help parents, students and teachers navigate the upcoming school year amid the coronavirus pandemic. As part of the program, Payless will partner with schools across the country to provide technology, lunches and shoes necessary for new at-home classes to those in need.

In January, Payless announced that a new management team — lead by new CEO Jared Margolis — would attempt to reintroduce the affordable shoe retailer to US markets after filing for bankruptcy twice.

Margolis (the former president of a licensing agency called CAA-GBG) said in a statement: “I am pleased to have the opportunity to lead this iconic retail brand into a new strategic phase with a strengthened balance sheet and clean financial outlook.”

“We intend to leverage Payless’ existing infrastructure, which is best in class and already includes product design and development, distribution, marketing, and a strong relationship with major footwear manufacturers,” the statement read. “Thus, providing the new Payless with the ability to be nimble, innovative, and to fast-track our biggest growth opportunity: The United States.”

He continued: “We will implement a new comprehensive strategic plan to strengthen our relationship with our vendors and suppliers, support our global franchise partners and deepen the trust of our customers.”

In 2019, Payless filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, shutting all 2,100 US stores and leaving 16,000 people unemployed.

“Payless will begin liquidation sales at its U.S. and Puerto Rico stores on February 17, 2019, and is winding down its e-commerce operations,” a Payless spokesperson confirmed to CNN Business at the time, adding that “this process does not affect the Company’s franchise operations or its Latin American stores, which remain open for business as usual.”

The shoe retailer, which was founded in 1956, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in April 2017, according to CNN Business. The outlet went on to report that at the time that the company closed around 400 of its stores.

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