Forever 21 files for bankruptcy; no word yet on Guam store

The site of the old Forever 21 store at the Guam Premier Outlets in Tamuning will soon be the site of a second COVID vaccination site operated by the Guam Guard (PNC file photo)

Forever 21, once one of the most popular boutiques patronized by teeners, has filed for voluntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy and closing as many as 350 stores globally, including as many as 178 stores in the mainland, the Associated Press reported.

There is no word yet whether the Guam store will be closed. The Forever 21 store in Tamuning has not yet responded to PNC’s request for comment. Monte Mesa, general manager of Guam Premier Outlets, tells PNC that they have not received any official notification from Forever 21 with regard to the bankruptcy.

According to Forever 21, the bankruptcy filing will allow it to continue to operate its stores as usual, while the company takes positive steps to reorganize the business so it can return to profitability.

As part of the bankruptcy filing, Forever 21, has requested approval to close a number of stores across the U.S. The decisions as to which domestic stores will be closing are ongoing, pending the outcome of continued conversations with landlords.

“We do however expect a significant number of these stores will remain open and operate as usual, and we do not expect to exit any major markets in the U.S.,” the company said in a statement.

The bankruptcy marks a dramatic fall for the retailer. Forever 21 was founded in 1984 and, along with other fast-fashion chains like H&M and Zara, rode a wave of popularity among young customers that took off in the mid-1990s. It even stole customers from traditional stalwarts like Abercrombie & Fitch and American Eagle.

Here on Guam, Forever 21’s opening was highly anticipated. During its opening in March 2015, hundreds were already in line before the doors opened. According to PNC files, the first customers arrived around 2 in the morning and from there, more lined up.

But Forever 21 went on an aggressive expansion just as shoppers were moving more online. As of the bankruptcy filing, it operated about 800 stores globally, including more than 500 stores in the U.S. The company says it will still operate its e-commerce business, which accounts for 16% of total sales.