J Crew Hong Kong stores to close after failed Asian foray

American fashion brand J Crew is to close its two Hong Kong stores later this month, six years after it chose the city as the launchpad for a failed Asian foray. 

Notices have been posted on the doors of the two J Crew Hong Kong stores – at Times Square in Causeway Bay and On Lan Street in Central – advising customers of the pending closure. At Times Square it is promoting 50 per cent off remaining stock. 

A staff member of the Times Square store told the South China Morning Post the stores would close on February 23. 

Like other international retailers in Hong Kong, J Crew was battered by the social unrest which gripped Hong Kong from June to December last year, and has now been impacted by a dearth of mainland Chinese visitors resulting from the growing coronavirus crisis which has all but closed the border with the mainland. 

J Crew is the headline brand of J Crew Group, which also operates the denim brand Madewell. 

Announcing its move into brick-and-mortar stores in Asia in early 2014, J Crew was expected to open in major cities across the region. However a licensing agreement with Itochu in Japan, which at last count had about 76 stores, will soon be the only remaining physical presence in the region.  

The company designs and sells menswear, womenswear and childrenswear including apparel, shoes and accessories. 

The company has experienced turbulent times of late, avoiding bankruptcy protection in 2017 after reaching a debt-for-equity swap arrangement with bondholders. In November 2018 CEO James Brett stepped down and was replaced by a group of four senior executives sharing the role until in April last year when president and COO Michael Nicholson assumed the title. 

Last month, the company announced Jane Singer, a previous CEO of Victoria’s Secret would replace Nicholson. 

Between 2016 and 2018, J Crew shuttered almost 100 stores in the US and as a further part of  a restructure in November 2018, the company’s J Crew Home, Mercantile and Nevereven brands were shut down allowing the company to focus on its core fashion offer.

After the Hong Kong store closures, J Crew will have about 450 retail stores trading in the US along with its Japanese licence. It also sells online shipping globally.

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