Belk is closing two department stores next year, including one in West Virginia and a large store in Atlanta’s prominent Buckhead neighborhood.
The Charlotte-based retailer confirmed Tuesday that it will close its stores in Morgantown, home of West Virginia University, and at Atlanta’s Phipps Plaza Mall. The move will result in the loss of 39 full- and part-time jobs in Morgantown, and 144 full- and part-time jobs in Atlanta.
The announcement of the closures comes nearly two years after Belk sold itself to private equity firm Sycamore Partners. The move jibes with the plan former CEO Tim Belk described before he retired: The chain would close under-performing stores, refurbish profitable ones and even open new locations.
Belk closed a store in Jacksonville, Fla., in January, for instance. The company opened two new stores in Kentucky and Georgia this fall, and plans to open another in Maryland next year. Belk also plans to renovate 25 stores next year with new carpet and new dressing rooms, among other amenities, spokesman Andy Izquierdo said
“This is in the best interest of our company moving forward,” Izquierdo said of the two store closures. “The investment is still there on our part, and we are still in growth mode.”
Belk’s closures also come amid the mounting challenges brick-and-mortar retailers face from online shopping.
The beleaguered department store chain J.C. Penney announced plans this year to close 138 stores nationwide, including two in Charlotte, to cut costs. Macy’s also said in August it was selling 100 under-performing stores nationwide, including the one at Carolina Place.
Belk’s Atlanta store that is closing is considered a “flagship” location, Izquierdo said. A store is a flagship location if it is about 160,000 square feet or larger and meets minimum volume requirements, the company has said.
Phipps Plaza is getting a major facelift that will include a luxury hotel, a fitness complex, an office tower and restaurants, mall owner Simon Property Group said Tuesday. Most of the new development will take place on the site of the Belk store, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
Atlanta is one of Belk’s largest markets, and it operates about 20 other stores there, Izquierdo said. The employees at the Phipps Plaza store will have the opportunity to transfer to other locations. The plan is to close the Buckhead location, which opened in 2006, next summer.
A clearance sale will begin at the Morgantown store on New Years Eve, with a projected store closing in March 2018, Izquierdo said. The store opened in 1996.