UPDATE 1-Home decor retailer Pier 1 files for bankruptcy protection, plans sale

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Feb 17 (Reuters) – Decorative home decor and furniture retailer Pier 1 Imports Inc said on Monday it had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and was pursuing a sale, a month after announcing plans for sweeping store closures.

The Fort Worth, Texas-based company is the latest retailer struggling in a market dominated by e-commerce giant Amazon.com Inc and other retail stalwarts like Walmart Inc .

Last month, Pier 1 warned about its ability to continue as a going concern in the tough retail environment. At the same time, it announced plans to slash unspecified number of jobs and close up to 450 stores, nearly half of what it operated in the United States and Canada as of late last year.

The retailer said it had already closed or initiated going-out-of-business sales at more than 400 locations, and it is in the process of shutting two distribution centers.

Pier 1 said it had received a commitment of about $256 million in debtor-in-possession financing from Bank of America, Wells Fargo National Association and Pathlight Capital LP.

The retailer said it expected to keep its online platform and remaining stores open and running during the bankruptcy process.

“We are moving ahead in this process with the support of our lenders and are pleased with the initial interest as we engage in discussions with potential buyers,” Chief Executive Officer Robert Riesbeck said in a statement.

The company said it was in discussions with multiple potential buyers. It expects a deadline of March 23 for binding qualified bids on the company.

Any sale would require approval from the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.

Pier 1 said it would also begin bankruptcy proceedings in Canada, where all of its brick-and-mortar shops are expected to close.

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