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Sports Authority Speeds Up Store Closings

Sports Authority is ceasing operations earlier than expected.

The retailer will close most or all of its stores at the end of this month after settling for liquidation and failing to find buyers, The Wall Street Journal reported.

According to seven store managers interviewed by the Journal, Sports Authority has instructed all workers to begin store closing procedures and permanently lock up locations, while the retailer enters into the final stages of bankruptcy. The sporting goods retailer filed for Chapter 11 in March after years of struggle.

Although CEO Michael Foss’s May 25 letter told customers that all stores would close by the end of August, this abrupt move may signal a quicker end for Sports Authority. Store managers who participated in a conference call last week were told that the retailer’s 14,000 jobs would be gone by the end of July.

Some managers were told that stores would remain open throughout August, only to learn that their stores would close abruptly by late July. Unfortunately, most Sports Authority employees are not protected by WARN, a federal law that requires employers to notify employees in advance about mass layoffs.

“I have a good store, one of the better performers, and I had hopes right up to the end that someone would buy us,” said a New England store manager who spoke on condition of anonymity to the Journal. “It’s disappointing, but I’m a professional and I am going to do what I am supposed to do.”

Last week, Sports Authority paid off its higher lenders after accumulating funds from its first going-out-of-business sales rounds. In August, the retailer will be in court to achieve approval on its lenders settlement. At the moment, it is unclear how much cash will be divided between lenders, landlords and suppliers.

Sports Authority’s website is now advertising its final going-out-of-business sales period. Since the retailer’s webstore is closed, customers may purchase items at least 60 percent off at all store locations nationwide until the end of the month.