The teen retailer rue21 will close 400 stores, including 13 stores in Tennessee, 12 in Georgia and 14 in Alabama.
› Bradley Square Mall in Cleveland
› Scottsboro Marketplace in Scottsboro, Ala.
› Bartow Marketplace in Cartersville, Ga.
Stores staying open
› Northgate Mall in Hixson
› Hamilton Village in East Brainerd
› Parkway Drive in Fort Olgethorpe
› Walnut Square in Dalton, Ga.
Teen clothing retailer rue21 is closing about one-third of its stores nationwide as it focuses more on its online business.
The privately held company announced today it is shuttering nearly 400 stores, including 13 in Tennessee and 12 in Georgia. By June, rue21 plans to close its store in the Bradley Square Mall in Cleveland, Tenn., and other stores in the region in Scottsboro, Ala., and Cartersville, Ga.
But the retailer will keep its stores in the Hamilton Place, Northgate and Walnut Square malls in the Chattanooga area, and other store in Fort Olgethorpe.
"It's true – we are closing some stores," the company said in a Facebook post. "It was a difficult but necessary decision. We still have hundreds of locations across the country, and our website rue21.com, open for business."
Like many brick-and-mortar retailers, it has been battling declining mall traffic amid strong competition online.
The teen-oriented retail chain was founded in 1976 by Cary Klein and is headquartered in the Pittsburgh suburb of Cranberry, Pa.
The closures mark a sharp about-face for rue21, which operates in the "fast fashion" niche, where clothing retailers seek to get inexpensive versions of the latest trends on the racks as quickly as possible.
Prior to this year, the retailer charted a course of aggressive expansion, adding 700 stores from 2010 through this January.
Formerly publicly traded, rue21 was purchased in 2013 by private equity firm Apax Partners in a transaction valued at $1.1 billion.
But the retailer has been struggling to repay nearly $1 billion in debt. Bloomberg reported in January that rue21 had hired Rothschild Inc. to help develop a debt repayment and cost-reduction strategy.
This story was updated April 17 at 11:15 p.m. with more information.