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Kleinhans Co. Friday announced plans to close its off-price outlet store in the Thruway Mall in Cheektowaga on Dec. 31.

The clothier joins a string of a half-dozen stores to close down or leave the aging mall for glitzier quarters in the new Walden Galleria mall nearby. Kleinhans in August also moved from the older Seneca Mall in West Seneca to McKinley Mall in Hamburg.

"We're closing in the Thruway, which was run as an outlet," said Gary W. Cejka, president of Kleinhans. "We don't want to be an outlet."

The chain has six Buffalo-area stores.

The closing also is part of a movement by the chain's parent company, Chicago-based Hartmarx Corp., to improve profits by streamlining the company.

Hartmarx announced plans to close 65 of its 263 stores, most of which was to take place in October and November.

Sluggish retail sales, especially in men's wear, was like a "double whammy" for the manufacturer/retailer of men's and women's clothing, said John S. Landschulz, retail analyst with Howe Barnes Investments of Chicago.

Centralization of the company's far-flung chain of stores also disrupted the corporation's performance. Its stores previously had been largely autonomous, Landschulz said.

"Kleinhans can remain healthy because the operations are receiving much stronger backup and direction than they had received in the past," Lanschulz said.

"Hartmarx has had a rough time but it is not going to go out of business," he said.

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