Century 21 will be closing all of its 13 stores, located mostly across the city and nearby suburbs, and has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The company said the failure to receive payment under its business interruption insurance left them with no choice.
“While insurance money helped us to rebuild after suffering the devastating impact of 9/11, we now have no viable alternative but to begin the closure of our beloved family business because our insurers, to whom we have paid significant premiums every year for protection against unforeseen circumstances like we are experiencing today, have turned their backs on us at this most critical time,” said Century 21 co-CEO Raymond Gindi in a statement. “While retailers across the board have suffered greatly due to COVID-19, and Century 21 is no exception, we are confident that had we received any meaningful portion of the insurance proceeds, we would have been able to save thousands of jobs and weather the storm, in hopes of another incredible recovery.”On June 9, Century 21 informed the NYS Department of Labor that all 1,147 employees the store had temporarily laid off on March 17 and 18 of this year, will be permanently laid off as the company planned to close all stores. The workers were represented by the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, Local 888.
Among those laid off are 104 employees at their central office, 470 employees at the store by the World Trade Center, 133 employees at the Lincoln Square Store, 175 employees at the Bay Ridge store, 108 employees at City Point store in Downtown Brooklyn, and 157 employees at Rego Park store in Queens.
“Century 21 isn’t going away just yet, however. All of our stores are open, and our team members are continuing to deliver the same amazing experiences to our guests, taking necessary precautions to keep our stores safe,” the Gindi family wrote in their letter to their customers. “You can also continue to shop at C21stores.com for a limited time. We invite you to take advantage of even deeper discounts on the designer brands you love by shopping us now, while the merchandise selection is best!”
This adds to the already bleak jobs outlook in the borough.
COVID-19 Pandemic has sent unemployment in the city to levels last seen during the Great Depression almost a hundred years ago. Unemployment in Brooklyn has gone from 4% to 20.4% since February and has not budged since the city started reopening in late June, according to data from the NYS Labor department.
According to New School’s Center For New York City Affairs report – actual unemployment is much higher than that – at almost 33%., arrived at by looking at the actual data on how many people filed for unemployment and comparing that to the labor force in February, before the city shut down:
“Actual unemployment (measured by UI recipients) in the Bronx is nearly 41 percent, followed by 37 percent in Queens and 33 percent in Brooklyn. In Staten Island, nearly 28 percent of the labor force received unemployment benefits in July while in Manhattan the actual unemployment rate was 23 percent. (The corresponding figure for New York State as a whole is 27.6 percent.”
Local lawmakers have been fighting for local businesses to get their insurance claims covered since PAUSE was ordered.