Jamesway Corp. is about to become extinct.
The Secaucus, N.J.-based retail chain sought protection yesterday from creditors less than a year after it emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy, becoming the latest casualty in the tightening discount industry.
Yesterday's Chapter 11 filing is only a stop-gap measure. As previously reported by The Sun, Jamesway said it will liquidate its 90 stores, including two in the Baltimore area. Although the company has obtained $25 million in financing, stores operating in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Maryland will be closed by Christmas, putting about 6,000 employees out of work.
Jamesway officials could not be reached for comment late yesterday, but in an answering machine recording, a company executive said, "These are certainly times that try men's souls."
Customers, however, will benefit as the chain slashes prices to clear out merchandise.
Jamesway, hammered financially over the past five years, is only the latest to feel the squeeze from weak sales, intense competition and skittish creditors. Caldor Corp., the fourth-largest discount department store, filed for bankruptcy protection in September, following the same path as rival Bradlees Inc., which filed in June.
In the continuing industry shakeout, discounters TJ Maxx and Marshall's this week announced intentions to merge, and Kmart's stock has plunged as the company remains mired in losses.
"It's the beginning of a major consolidation period for discounters in this country, and there will be more to come in the next 12 to 18 months," said Mark A. Millman, president of Millman Search Group Inc., a consulting firm in Lutherville.