Borders will axe 200 Waldenbooks stores, 1,500 jobs

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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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