Belk is going to close two department stores next year: one near Charlotte and a large store famous Buckhead neighborhood of Atlanta.
On Tuesday Charlotte-based store confirmed that it will close its headquarters in Morganton, just off Interstate 40, and at Atlanta’s Phipps Plaza Mall. This closure will cause loss of 39 full- and part-time jobs in Morganton, and 144 full- and part-time jobs in Atlanta.
The statement of the closures comes about 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 underperforming stores, refurbish profitable ones and even open new locations.
For example, Belk closed a store in Jacksonville, Fla., in January. The company opened two new stores in Kentucky and Georgia this fall, and schedules to open another in Maryland next year. Spokesman Andy Izquierdo said that next year Belk plans to renew 25 stores with new carpet and new dressing rooms, among other facilities.
Izquierdo said of the two store closures: “This is in the best interest of our company moving forward. The investment is still there on our part, and we are still in growth mode.”
Belk’s closures also come among the mounting challenges brick-and-mortar stores 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 in order to cut costs. Macy’s also told that 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.
Izquierdo said Atlanta is one of largest markets of Belk. It operates about 20 other stores there. The employees at the Phipps Plaza store will have the chance to transfer to other locations. The goal is to close the Buckhead location, next summer which opened in 2006.
Izquierdo said a clearance sale will begin at the Morganton store on New Year’s Eve, with a projected store closing in March 2018.