Syms, Filene’s Basement Closing Down



Legendary retailers Syms Corp. and subsidiary Filene’s Basement have filed for Chapter 11 and plan to liquidate, the company announced Nov. 2.

“After careful consideration [our board] has come to the conclusion that a bankruptcy filing and liquidation is the best way of maximizing value for all stakeholders,” Syms CEO Marcy Syms said in a statement.

The company owns 46 “off-price” retail stores, with 21 of them bearing the Filene’s Basement name, which it acquired in a bankruptcy auction in 2009. Several Syms stores carry a selection of fine jewelry, while Ultra Stores runs the jewelry departments in a dozen Filene’s stores, according to Ultra spokeswoman Kris Land, who otherwise declined comment.

The company’s court papers say it tried to sell the business a while back, but the process unearthed “no viable bids.” The liquidation of stores is expected to run through approximately January 2012, the company added. 

Both companies were well-known in the Northeast and Midwest markets. Syms Corp was founded by Sy Syms in 1959, and was famed for its commercials starring its founder, declaring “an educated consumer is our best customer.” Filene’s Basement dates back to 1909 and founder William Filene, and has its own well-known slogan: “Where bargains were born.”

The companies blamed the filing on the “increased competition” in the discount store business, and notes that Syms Corp. has “experienced significant operational losses during the last two years” and that it projects the losses will continue “for the foreseeable future.”

JCK News Director