Gordmans stores in Albion and Geneseo will close unless a buyer can be found, the stores’ parent company announced.

The announcement comes less than four months after the off-price brands retailer transitioned from the Peebles brand, part of an all-out strategy by Houston-based Stage Stores Inc. to convert all of its stores to the Gordmans brand.

Stage Stores Inc., which cited financial challenges enhanced by the COVID-19 pandemic in filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Sunday, said it intends to shutter its more than 700 stores unless a buyer comes forward.

“This is a very difficult announcement, and it was a decision that we reached only after exhausting every possible alternative,” Stage Stores CEO Michael Glazer said in a statement.

Stage Stores said it would wind down its operations and begin store-closing sales in phases. At the time, it would continue to seek buyers for the entire business or some of its assets. If the company does receive any viable bids, it would end the wind-down of those locations.

Stage Stores had limited cash reserves and was unable to obtain financing to stay afloat while its stores were shut down during the pandemic.

“Over the last several months, we had been taking significant steps to attempt to strengthen our financial position and find an independent path forward,” Glazer said in his statement. “However, the increasingly challenging market environment was exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which required us to temporarily close all of our stores and furlough a vast majority of our associates.”

The company said it plans to honor gift cards and returns for the first 30 days after a store reopens for liquidation sales.

Gordmans sold an assortment of brand-name apparel and home décor.

The first phase of the reopening is expected to begin Friday and include more than 550 stores. The second phase of about 70 stores would begin May 28, with the remaining stores reopening on June 4.

Gordmans stores in Geneseo and Albion both opened Feb. 18 with ribbon cuttings and donations to the local school district. The grand openings were among several throughout the western half of the state. Others openings were conducted at stores in Geneva, Newark, Penn Yan and Hornell, along with 23 stores in Pennsylvania.

Stage Stores operates more than 700 stores nationwide – many are in the Midwest - under such brands as Goody’s, Palais Royal, Bealls and Peebles.

Stage Stores had bought Gordmans in 2017 after Gordmans previously declared bankruptcy.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1