Wet Seal announced Wednesday that is closing 338 stores, leaving 3,695 full and part-time employees jobless. It will still operate 173 stores and continues its online business.
The company decided to proceed with the store closures after assessing its overall financial condition and its inability to successfully negotiate meaningful concessions from its landlords.
Ed Thomas, The Wet Seal, Inc. CEO, said, “This was a very difficult decision to make, but after reviewing many other options since I returned to the Company in September, our financial condition leaves us no other alternative than to close these stores. This is an extremely difficult time for the entire Wet Seal team, and we are doing everything we can to protect the interests of all of our stakeholders, including our employees. We acknowledge and sympathize with how hard these recent events have been on our employees, both those staying with the Company and especially those who are leaving the Company this week.”
It has been a rough week for the drama-plagued retailer. The company’s retail employees began a social media stir this week after the announced store closures without fair notice to its workers.
Employees at several locations, including Dayton Mall in Ohio, Ballston Mall in Virginia and Northgate Mall in Washington, hung posters in store windows with hashtags #BoycottWetSeal and #ForgetWetSeal. The hashtags then went viral on Reddit as unhappy Wet Seal employees nationwide joined the protest online.
According to the LA Times, one sign read, “One days notice to find new jobs…No transfers to open stores… Financial hardship but CFO receives $95,000.” Another sign at the Dayton Mall location said, “Took away all of our benefits including sick time and vacation which we worked for, and were told we would receive. Btw, NO SEVERANCE PAY!”
A salesperson at the Dayton Mall store told the LA Times the staff was informed on Saturday that the store was shutting down in three days.
Three employees of the Northgate Mall location were reportedly fired over the hashtag coup. Wet Seal has not commented on the protests.