Laura Melanie Lyne

The Quebec-based operator of Laura and Melanie Lyne has filed for creditor protection. (CBC)

Canadian women's fashion retailer Laura's Shoppe, which owns Laura, Laura Petites and Melanie Lyne, has filed for creditor protection.

The company, with more than 150 stores across the country, said it expects to close some underperforming stores but plans to keep doing business as usual while it restructures.

Laura admits it experienced large losses in 2012 and 2013, but president Kalman Fisher said sales have since rebounded.

A filing under the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act protects the retailer from claims by creditors while it revamps its operations.

"We fully expect to reorganize the business, emerge as a strong and well-financed retailer and continue to serve our customers for many years to come," Fisher said in a news release.

"We continue to fill very important needs in the marketplace. Our customers have shown incredible loyalty to us, and have responded well to our redoubled efforts to please them during these difficult economic times."

He did not specify how many stores might close.

The women's fashion segment in Canada is very competitive, with several casualties over the last two years, including big department stores such as Sears, which is closing stores, and Target, which pulled out of Canada altogether.

A flood of newcomers to the marketplace and the rise of online sales has hurt fashion retailing.

Mexx folded in Canada and Jacob restructured as an online operation. Jones New York last week found a buyer for its Canadian retail operations, while Bikini Village was purchased by La Vie en Rose.

Laura was founded by Laura Wolstein with a shop in Montreal in 1930 and grew into a Canada-wide chain in the 1990s on sales of quality clothing for women in the workplace. It is still family owned.