News

Gottschalks axe misses mall

By JODY ALLARD

Staff writer

The closure of six Washington state Gottschalks stores announced Monday by the regional retailer won’t impact the SeaTac Mall store in Federal Way.

The department store chain will purportedly close stores in West Seattle, Issaquah, Burien and Lake Forest Park within the month. About 120 Seattle-area employees are expected to be laid off.

“All we’re allowed to say is that we’re not one of them,” said Federal Way store manager Holly Gilbert.

Gottschalks’ credit card division was also sold Friday to Household, an Illinois-based consumer credit firm.

The department store chain, which is based in Fresno, Calif., hopes to save $2 million a year as a result of the store closures and sale of the credit card division.

Gottschalks bought 34 stores from Lamonts, following that Seattle-based retail chain’s 2000 bankruptcy, in an effort to top $1 billion in annual sales and ride a four-year streak of record earnings and revenues.

A declining economy and plummeting sales has forced Gottschalks to close 14 of the former Lamonts stores in the past two years and accounts for the Seattle-area closures, company officials said.

Gottschalks’ stock has bottomed out at $1.16 per share, the lowest in company history, since the announcement.

Company officials in Fresno couldn’t be reached for comment Monday.

Gottschalks, founded in 1904 by German immigrant Emil Gottschalk, will continue to operate 65 department stores and 13 specialty stores in six western states –– California, Washington, Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Nevada. Their merchandise includes clothing, jewelry and home items.

Staff writer Jody Allard: 925-5565 and jallard@fedwaymirror.com

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