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Rue21 Bucks Retail Trend as It Prepares to Open 15 New Stores

Amid widespread store closures spurred by the coronavirus pandemic, Rue21 is bucking the trend by opening more than a dozen new outposts.

The specialty retailer announced this week that its business is “significantly outperforming” the apparel market. As such, it revealed that it has opened three new brick-and-mortar locations, with another 15 units planned for next year.

“Today’s announcement is a testament to the leadership of the CFO and the entire executive team in executing our operating strategy and putting us in the enviable position of investing in building the Rue21 brand, new digital capabilities and opening more new stores,” said CEO Bill Brand, who was appointed to the top post just over a month ago.

Rue21 currently operates 673 stores across 45 states as well as its online platform at www.Rue21.com. It also recently launched a new loyalty program dubbed Rue Rewards, which the company said has racked up more than 2.8 million members.

Along with the announcement, the Pittsburgh-based chain revealed that its “strong financial position” has enabled it to refinance its existing term loan, increase available liquidity and lower its cost of capital. As of today, its total liquidity exceeds $100 million, and the new capital structure will allow the company to accelerate strategic growth initiatives, including enhancements to its omnichannel services.

“Today is an exciting day as we’ve accomplished our goal of putting Rue21 on a secure financial footing in the most unprecedented of times,” explained CFO Michele Pascoe, who noted that the retailer continues to outperform expectations with comparable sales exceeding last year’s results. “In addition, our reduced debt load signals our financial strength to vendor and landlord partners.”

Rue21 notably filed for bankruptcy three years ago. At the time, it was struggling with a decline in foot traffic to malls and the rise of digital channels. The Chapter 11 process provided the chain with the opportunity to shrink its brick-and-mortar footprint by more than 420 stores, while it also shed millions of dollars in debt as lenders took over the company from private equity firm Apax Partners.

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