The Walking Company seeks to close 40 more stores

Fri Jan 22, 2010 7:25pm EST

*Bankrupt shoe retailer seeks to close 40 more stores

*Would bring total store closures to 130 of 210 stores

NEW YORK Jan 22 (Reuters) - Bankrupt U.S. shoe retailer, The Walking Company, will seek court approval next month to close 40 additional stores.

The retailer, which sells comfortable shoes at its namesake stores and also runs the Big Dogs sportswear clothing line, filed for bankruptcy in early December with a plan to close 90 of its original 210 stores immediately.

A U.S. bankruptcy judge in California on Thursday set a court hearing for Feb. 16 for the company to discuss "post holiday" store closings.

According a court order filed this week, the company was given approval to begin "holiday" or "soft closing" procedures at those "underperforming" stores during the holiday shopping period beginning Dec. 18.

The company said the 40 additional stores it is now seeking to close were "either unprofitable or only marginally profitable."

"The company's reorganization effort hinges on its ability to right-size its lease portfolio, which will allow the Company to eliminate literally millions of dollars in annual operating expenses," The Walking Company's chief executive Andrew Feshbach wrote in a declaration filed with the court last week.

The case is In re: The Walking Company, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Central District of California, No. 09-15138. (Reporting by Emily Chasan; editing by Carol Bishopric)

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