Borders will axe 200 Waldenbooks stores, 1,500 jobs

Borders (BGP) announced Thursday afternoon that it will close 200 of its Waldenbooks stores by early January, cutting as many as 1,500 jobs, most of them part-time. The move is intended as part of Borders's ongoing plan to streamline costs and find its way out of a money pit that's plagued it for years and led to a flurry of executive shuffles.

The shutdown will leave 130 of the mall-based WaldenBooks stores in operation; 45 branches had closed since the end of May.

"We believe there remains an opportunity to profitably operate a much smaller Waldenbooks segment that complements our core Borders superstore business and continues to serve readers in their communities," Borders CEO Ron Marshall said in a statement. The closings, he said, "will reduce the number of stores with operating losses, reduce our overall rent expense and lease-adjusted leverage, and generate cash flow through sales and working capital reductions."

The move comes as Barnes & Noble (BKS) prepares to shutter all but two of its smaller, mall-based B. Dalton stores by January, signaling the last nail in the 1980s-era heyday of shopping-mall retail for book chains. But mostly, it's further indication of Borders's ongoing financial struggles: the company almost lost its place on the NYSE this year. Its stock rose 1.44 percent to $2.11 per share in trading today.
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