BY MORGAN LEGEL
Journal Staff

Mesa

After filing for bankruptcy last year, Payless ShoeSource Inc. plans to relaunch its e-commerce website and open new stores within the U.S., the company announced on Jan. 16.

In February 2019, the Topeka, Kan.-based discount shoe chain filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy, resulting in the closure of over 2,000 U.S. stores, along with the territory locations in Guam and Saipan. The company filed for the same chapter bankruptcy in 2017, as well.

Until last year, there was a location in Guam Premier Outlets and Micronesia Mall, as well as in San Jose, Saipan. Payless has not announced whether it will bring the brand back to Micronesia.

Monte D.M. Mesa, general manager of GPO and Tumon Sands Plaza, said that Payless had been an original store in the business plan when the outlets first opened in 1997.

“Their business had continuously grown on Guam,” Mesa said. “With a business that fit the demographic of attracting local Micronesian families, Payless had the right price with a good selection of brands.”

According to Journal files, liquidation sales for the three stores in the region began in May 2019. Mesa said that the company had budgeted a month for sales to continue, but within weeks, the majority of the product had been sold.

Once Payless had moved out of GPO, Mesa said the store front was an area for other stores in the outlets to expand. “We worked with other tenants who were able to use the space as a pop-up, temporary store,” he said. “That worked out for us because we gained a little more than what we would have lost if we didn’t fill up the space.”

The location will have a new tenant come May, according to Mesa. He said Tommy Hilfiger Kids will be taking over the space on or before May 1, and the company began reconstruction on the location in January.

Over 700 brick-and-mortar Payless stores in Central America, the Caribbean, South America, Asia, the Middle East and North Africa remain in operation, according to the company’s website.

A Jan. 16 press release stated that after emerging from the voluntary bankruptcy filings and hearings, the company has hired a new executive management team, led by CEO Jared Margolis, who was formerly president of the brand management and licensing agency CAA-GBG. The company also hired Justo Fuentes to serve as CEO of the Latin America division. He was the former president of BATA Latin America, a footwear and accessories manufacturer.

“I am pleased to have the opportunity to lead this iconic retail brand into a new strategic phase with a strengthened balance sheet and clean financial outlook,” said Margolis in a statement. “We will implement a new comprehensive strategic plan to strengthen our relationship with our vendors and suppliers, support our global franchise partners and deepen the trust of our customers.”

If Payless would like to come back to Guam, Mesa said there would be “no hesitation.”

“The brand continued to generate a lot of sales at GPO while they were here,” he said. “If they want to come back, we will gladly rent them a space if available, and find or build a space that could accommodate them.”

Mesa added, “Retail trends on fashion, especially footwear have changed so much. Don’t be surprised if we have another national footwear brand store coming to Guam in the next 12 months.” mbj