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Avenue shuttering up to 120 stores

New York -- As plus-size apparel retailer Avenue Stores emerges from bankruptcy under new ownership, it will do so with a much streamlined store presence.

Paul Halpern, chief investment officer of Versa Capital Management, which bought the chain out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy in February for $32 million, said the current store count of 415 to 420 will be reduced to about 300 to assure profitability.

According to a Tuesday report in the Wall Street Journal, Halpern said that a portion of the store closings were completed at the deal’s close, and the balance of the closings are underway.

Under prior ownership by United Retail Group, Avenue put itself up for sale in February. New owner Versa is working to right the ship; in addition to cutting stores it is completing a management transition led by CEO Elizabeth Williams – former president of Fashion Bug -- and a retooling of information and cash management systems. Jim Smith has been named the retailer’s new CFO.

Halpern is one of several panelists speaking at the ACG Lessons from Successful Revitalizations panel Tuesday at the Harvard Club in New York.

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