BCBG Max Azria to close all 51 Canadian stores as retailer can't pay its bills

Women's upscale fashion retail chain BCBG Max Azria is seeking protection from creditors in North America, and plans to restructure, including closing all its standalone stores in Canada.

Women's retail chain the latest to succumb to trend of online shopping and changing tastes

BCBG Max Azria will close its standalone stores in Canada as part of its restructuring plans. (Bloomberg)

Women's upscale fashion retail chain BCBG Max Azria is seeking protection from creditors in North America and plans to restructure, closing all its standalone stores in Canada.

The chain, founded in Los Angeles in 1989, has grown to 550 stores worldwide. The retailer focuses on career and party garments such as cocktail dresses that range from $250 to $750 US.

But despite $615 million US in sales in its most recently completed fiscal year, the chain is the latest unable to pay its debts. Court documents suggest the company has assets of up to $500 million and debts of up to $1 billion.

"Unfortunately, like many other apparel and retail companies, BCBG has fallen victim in recent years to adverse macro-trends, including a general shift away from brick-and-mortar to online retail channels, a shift in consumer demographics," the company said in a court filing.

As such, BCBG Max Azria is seeking protection under Chapter 11 of the U.S. bankruptcy code, and under Canada's Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act.

While the plan is to stay in business in some form in the U.S., "as part of the Canadian proceedings, BCBG Canada intends to liquidate and wind down all of its standalone locations," the company said in a court filing.

Fifty-one stores in Canada will be liquidated and closed. But court filings say the company may spare its kiosks inside department stores, including the Bay, which are for the most part profitable.