TAMPA — This could be the end for the Forever 21 store at International Plaza, but the retailer says it is still trying to negotiate with landlords across the country.
On Tuesday, Forever 21 named 178 stores that could close as it restructures its finances as part of its Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing. The Forever 21 in Tampa was on the list, along with the location at the Shops at Wiregrass in Wesley Chapel. Seven total Florida locations were named.
"The decisions as to which domestic stores will be closing are ongoing, pending the outcome of continued conversations with landlords,” Forever 21 said in a statement. “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 owners of International Plaza, Taubman Properties, declined to comment about the future of the fast-fashion retailer inside the Westshore Boulevard mall. In total, there are 10 Taubman-owned malls with Forever 21 stores named on the list of possible closures.
The other Tampa Bay locations at the Brandon Westfield mall and the Countryside Westfield mall in Clearwater were not named. Neither was the location at the outlets in Lutz.
Alex Wright, the senior director of retail landlord leasing at Tampa firm Franklin Street, said it’s likely Forever 21′s location at International Plaza has among their more expensive leases.
“This has to be on the top of their list in terms of expenses,” said Wright, who does not work with Taubman or Forever 21 as clients. “Paired with stagnant sales growth, I think that’s probably the reason why this one hit critical mass so to speak versus the other ones in the area.”
International Plaza has been a bright spot, attracting high-class brands, as malls across the country struggle to keep up with shoppers’ habits that have been long trending toward online.
For now, Forever 21 is operating 549 U.S. stores in a “businesses as usual manner” as it restructures.
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story did not include the Forever 21 in Pasco County as being named on the list of possible closures.