4 Md. closings set by Service Merchandise

Catalog showrooms

May 05, 1999|By Lorraine Mirabella | Lorraine Mirabella,SUN STAFF

Service Merchandise Co. Inc., the last catalog-showroom chain in the United States, said yesterday that it will shut down four of six Maryland stores by the end of the week as part of earlier plans to close more than a third of its stores.

Stores in Frederick, Salisbury, Waldorf and Forestville will close, said Laura Ellis, communications director.

Those stores employed 252 people at the time the store closings were announced in February. The retailer expects few employee transfers because of the number of store closings, Ellis said. The retailer, with stores in 34 states, had said store closings would be the first step in a restructuring aimed at shrinking debt and recapturing sales. Sales had been slumping for months amid financing and management problems.

The Nashville, Tenn.-based retailer expected to shut down as many as 134 underperforming stores to focus on refining its niche in fine jewelry, gifts and home products at the remaining 213 stores.

"We think for now this is all we will have to close," Ellis said.

After the closings, two Service Merchandise stores will remain in Maryland, in White Marsh and in Columbia.

Service Merchandise opened its first catalog showroom in 1960 in Nashville, positioning itself between high-priced, brand-name department stores and inexpensive, off-brand discounters.

Pub Date: 5/05/99

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