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Jos. A Bank owner files for bankruptcy protection; Inner Harbor store on list for closing

A coronavirus-related bankruptcy filing by the parent of Jos. A. Bank and Men’s Wearhouse could mean the closure of at least a half dozen stores in Maryland, including a high-profile location at the Inner Harbor in downtown Baltimore and another in Towson.

Tailored Brands, which filed for Chapter 11 protection Sunday in the Southern District of Texas, included the Jos. Bank store at The Gallery at Harborplace, a Men’s Wearhouse at Towson Town Center and four other Jos. Bank locations on an initial list of proposed closures.

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Jos. Bank stores in Severna Park, Rockville, Gaithersburg and Germantown also were proposed for closure on a list of 100 stores where Houston-based Tailored Brands is looking to get out of unexpired leases.

Jos. A. Bank has deep roots in Maryland. The chain was based in Hampstead, in Carroll County, and ran 629 stores when it joined forces in 2014 with Men’s Wearhouse in a $1.8 billion deal.

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The former Maryland brand traces back to 1905, when a Baltimore tailor started a clothing manufacturing business that was taken over by his grandson, Joseph A. Bank. Bank sold suits to other retailers before selling out of its factory and opening its own outlets in the 1960s. The chain tried to distinguish itself through its luxury collections and by promising a focus on customer service and in-store tailors.

Tailored Brands, which owns store brands that rent tuxedos and sell men’s suits and business attire, has been hurt by canceled proms and weddings, closed business offices and temporary store closures.

Dozens of retailers, big and small, have filed for Chapter 11 protection this year. The pace through the first half of 2020 far exceeds the number of retail bankruptcies for all of last year. About two dozen stores have sought bankruptcy protection since the pandemic started.

Others include J. Crew, J.C. Penney, Neiman Marcus, Stage Stores, and Ascena Retail Group, which owns Lane Bryant in addition to Ann Taylor.

Tailored Brands, despite a dominant position in the market, was struggling even before shelter-in-place orders smothered any demand for suits or ties. Revenue fell about 5.6% over the past two years alone, partly a result of business attire becoming more casual.

The company has been hurt by the continuing decline in the brick-and-mortar retail industry generally, a trend exacerbated by COVID-19 closures.

The men’s retailer last month said it identified up to 500 stores out of the 1,274 it operates in the U.S. to possibly close at an unspecified date.

The chain had not previously disclosed which locations could shut down or when that might occur.

Tailored Brands has 43 stores in Maryland according to its website: 19 Men’s Wearhouse, 18 Jos. A. Bank and 6 K&G Fashion Superstores.

“There’s still a place for physical stores,” said Ray Wimer, an assistant professor of retail practice at Syracuse University, but many retailers lost the bulk of their sales amid COVID closures. “The pandemic took something that may have played out over three years and took it down to three or four months,” he said.

Men’s Wearhouse and Jos. A. Bank stores, along with K&G Fashion Superstore and Moores Clothing for Men, all owned by Tailored, will continue to operate during restructuring.

At the time of the merger with Jos. A. Banks, Men’s Wearhouse said it planned to retain Bank’s separate brand and identity.

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In March 2015, about a year after the takeover, Men’s Wearhouse announced it would lay off 122 employees at Bank’s Hampstead headquarters, about 15% of the then 780-person workforce.

A company spokeswoman on Monday did not respond to questions about any remaining Jos. Bank operations in Maryland, though a court filing lists Hampstead as a primary office location along with Houston, Freemont, Calif., and New York City.

“The goal of these chapter 11 cases is clear: emerge with a viable and feasible business that preserves approximately 15,500 jobs and thousands of customer, vendor and landlord relationships, " said Holly Etlin, Tailored Brands’ chief restructuring officer, in a bankruptcy court filing.

Tailored Brands wasn’t alone in its recent bankruptcy filing.

Last month, Brooks Brothers, the 200-year-old company that dressed nearly every U.S. president, filed for bankruptcy protection. Its rival, Barneys New York, is being dismantled after filing for bankruptcy last year.

Lord & Taylor also filed for bankruptcy protection on Sunday and says it’s looking for a buyer.

The company last year, before the emergence of coronavirus, sold its 11-story flagship building on New York’s Fifth Avenue which it’s owned for more than a century.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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