Can Legends Hospitality Save Century 21 from Another Bankruptcy? - The Jewish Voice
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Thursday, June 30, 2022

Can Legends Hospitality Save Century 21 from Another Bankruptcy?

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Edited by: TJVNews.com

Despite rampant inflation and other economic challenges, there is some good news for shopping aficionados in the New York City area. It was recently reported that the iconic Century 21 retail store is poised to return to the Big Apple after declaring bankruptcy in September of 2020. Owners of the retail giant claim that the origin of their bankruptcy decision was predicated on the Covid-19 lockdowns.

The off-price retailer of designer clothes, shoes and accessories is once again opening up shop at their flagship location in downtown Manhattan. Their Cortlandt Street location is across the street from the site of the World Trade Center. After the September 11th attacks back in 2001, Century21 closed for five months due to extensive damages incurred by the attack but thereafter re-opened with much fanfare.

Owned by the renowned Gindi family of Brooklyn, reports indicate that the decisive factor in Century 21’s bankruptcy was the fact that their insurance company did not remit payment of the $175 million for reasons of “business interruption” that was included in their policy.

Sources close to the Gindi family have said that the Century 21 chain had been experiencing onerous financial challenges for many years prior to the onset of the collective business meltdown that was due to the Covid-19 virus. Speaking on the condition of anonymity, the sources have said that the problems began when the officials at Century 21 decided to open 12 stores in addition to their flagship branch on Cortlandt Street. In addition they even decided to open a mega distribution center.

The anonymous sources said: “Century 21 opened these stores way too fast. But what really destroyed them financially was the skyrocketing costs associated with maintaining and operating their distribution center. The company was really hemorrhaging cash at an unbelievable rate. It was close to $50 million per year. They were on the brink of ending their 60 plus years of business in New York City way before the virus emerged in March of 2020.”

Offering their own opinion on the matter, the sources said: “It usually takes three generations for a family operated business to collapse but with the Gindi family, they managed to mess things up in the second generation.”

“The iconic retailer and purveyor of off-price luxury fashion has teamed with global premium experiences company Legends to introduce a revitalized shopping experience to Century 21′s faithful local — and global — fans,” the company said in their press release on Tuesday. “Through this next evolution, Century 21 will remain true to its DNA — one synonymous with value and luxury — with an exceptional assortment of designer brands at the unbeatable prices the brand has delivered for over 60 years.”

Those behind the revival are promising a “more streamlined customer shopping experience through in-store upgrades and an elevated, e-commerce presence, which will debut at the same time the brick-and-mortar store opens its doors.”

According to a report on the chainstoreage.com website, Legends is  a “premium experience” company that oversees retail and hospitality operations at locations that include the MLB flagship and Yankee Stadium in New York City.”

Founded in 2008, Legends has six divisions worldwide: global planning, global sales, global partnerships, hospitality, global merchandise, and global technology solutions. It offers data and analytics and helps clients design and plan experiences in sports, retail and entertainment. It has operated brick and mortar, pop-ups, e-commerce and in-venue retail experiences for many brands and events, as was reported by chainstoreage.com.

Women’s Wear Daily reported that Legends will provide its omnichannel operating expertise to Century 21 and will handle logistics, ticketing and store operations including hiring selling associates, cashiers and others, as well as providing systems, including IT and point-of-sale.

“Legends is proud to partner with Century 21 to bring the beloved retail experience back to New York City,” said Dan Smith, president, Legends Hospitality. “Working side by side with the Century 21 team, we have enhanced the in-store. and e-commerce experience and are excited to ‘open the doors’ to a global audience in 2023.”

According to a statement sent to the media on Tuesday, the re-opened Century 21 flagship location will span the four main floors of the original space, with men’s, women’s and children’s designer apparel, footwear, outerwear, handbags, accessories and fragrances. In another change, Century 21 is adding NYC to its brand logo to reflect its Big Apple roots.

Century 21 plans to upgrade their e-commerce website as well in coordination with the opening of their bricks and mortar store.

“Century 21 is, and always will be, a New York City brand,” said Raymond Gindi, Century 21 co-CEO. “Our flagship store has been a long-time symbol of this city’s resilience and unwavering spirit. We could not be more excited to bring Century 21 back home, delivering the same products and value to customers, in partnership with Legends.”

Century 21 Stores will continue to be run by the Gindi family, which founded the business some 60 years ago, according to the report on chainstoreage.com. Following the company’s bankruptcy, the family bought back the intellectual property of the brand for $9 million.

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