Bebe to close stores and focus on e-commerce (Report)
Bebe Stores Inc. is reportedly the latest mall fixture to fall victim to the e-commerce world.
On Wednesday, Bloomberg reported that Bebe is planning to close its stores and shift its focus to become an online-only brand. Bloomberg's sources stated that the retailer is trying to shut down its locations without filing for bankruptcy, but Chapter 11 may still be required if negotiations with landlords fall through. There's about 170 Bebe and Bebe Outlet stores currently opened, with 25 locations expected to close this year.
Bebe was founded by Manny Mashouf, who emigrated from Iran to the U.S. Mashouf opened the brand's first location in San Francisco in 1976, offering trendy tops and bodycon dresses. The name "Bebe" was inspired by Shakespeare's famous soliloquy in Hamlet: "To be or not to be."
At its height in the 2000s, Bebe enlisted a number of celebrities to front its campaigns. Rebecca Romijn, Eva Longoria and Mischa Barton were among the famous faces to appear in the retailer's ads. The Kardashians were also major fans of the brand. Kourtney, Kim and Khloe collaborated with the company to design the spring 2010 collection, and Kim launched a jewelry line with the label.
Bloomberg noted that Bebe doesn't have a significant debt, but that it has lost about $200 million over the past four years. Last year, the company entered into a joint venture with Bluestar Alliance LLC to develop a wholesale domestic and international lifestyle licensing business, which in turned helped Bebe raise $35 million.
Bebe did not immediately respond to The Hollywood Reporter's request for comments.