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 ASHTABULA, Ohio, Oct. 15 /PRNewswire/ -- Carlisle Retailers, Inc., one of Eastern Ohio and Northwestern Pennsylvania's oldest specialty retail companies, filed for protection under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code today in the Northern District of Ohio in Youngstown.
 Formed in 1868, Carlisle's operates 14 stores, including 11 in Ohio and three in Pennsylvania, and is in its 125th consecutive year of business.
 Officials of the privately held company said that all 14 stores are open on a "business-as-usual" basis and are fully stocked with the freshest fall-and-winter merchandise. They also said that customers will see no real change in store operations because of the legal action. Inventory levels are "on plan" for the holiday-selling season, they said.
 "This action will allow Carlisle's to continue to serve its customers as always, while establishing a new financing plan for the future," said Lorenzo T. (Ren) Carlisle III, chairman and chief executive officer. "Carlisle's has always been a solid performing organization, and our overall financial position is sound. We have an excellent balance sheet and very little long-term debt. We just ran into a temporary cash flow problem at a critical time of year caused by lagging sales."
 Carlisle said that the company explored all viable financing options before deciding to file for Chapter 11 protection. He noted that Carlisle's joins a long list of distinguished American retail institutions -- including Macy's, Bloomingdale's, Hills and Lazarus -- that filed for Chapter 11 protection, but are still in business serving millions of customers.
 "After carefully reviewing a number of financial restructuring options available to us," said Carlisle, "the officers and board of directors decided to file a voluntary petition under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code to protect the company, and its shareholders, customers and vendors against any precipitous action by creditors."
 Carlisle said the problems that prompted the company to file for Chapter 11 protection are all too familiar in the retailing industry today. He cited a chronically sluggish economy, slower-than-expected sales, continuing shifts in consumer buying patterns, tightened credit restrictions from an anxious lender, and the predictable pressures from suppliers whose confidence in the industry is more wary than ever.
 "The first half of 1993 was slow for us because of a slow economy and a newly implemented remerchandising strategy which caused initial confusion in our markets," said Carlisle. "This spring and summer our merchandise assortments became too narrow and we disappointed many of our long-time customers. We have since broadened our selection for the fall season, and we have seen solid improvement during the last five weeks. Current sales levels are the best they have been all year."
 Although the company recorded solid sales increases in recent weeks, Carlisle said the company's bank froze the unused portion of its line of credit because of operating losses through August. This caused a classic, industry-common cash flow problem in connection with the volume purchasing necessary for the holiday season. A result was that Carlisle's extended its normal terms of payment to its apparel and merchandise vendors leading some to withhold shipments of goods pending immediate payment.
 "The irony of the situation is that we estimate conservatively that even if our Christmas-selling season was only mediocre, we would be able to pay our vendors," said Carlisle. "We are confident that Carlisle's will overcome this temporary setback and emerge in an even stronger marketplace and financial position."
 In 1992, Carlisle Retailers, Inc., posted net earnings of $650,000 on sales of $44,457,000. In an effort to cut costs, the company trimmed its operating expenses by more than $1 million this year, reduced its workforce and is discontinuing its furniture and home furnishings business.
 Carlisle's stores are located in the Ohio cities of Alliance, Ashtabula, Boardman, Chardon, Fairlawn, Madison, Medina, Niles, North Canton and Painesville. It operates two stores in Erie, Pa., and one in Meadville, Pa. The company's corporate headquarters are in Ashtabula.
 -0- 10/15/93
 /CONTACT: David Eden, of William Silverman & Co., 216-696-7750, or, after hours, 216-751-2263, for Carlisle Retailers, Inc./

CO: Carlisle Retailers, Inc. ST: Ohio, Pennsylvania IN: REA SU: BCY

KL-AR -- CL020 -- 2889 10/15/93 16:06 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Oct 15, 1993

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