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Payless Is Back In Business: Why It's Re-Emerging Amid Pandemic

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Footwear retailer Payless is re-entering the U.S. market Tuesday with a plan to open 350-500 stores in the U.S, with its first store opening in November in Miami and an additional 30-40 stores opening in the Texas area by 2021.

But Payless' comeback plan isn't without headwinds. The discount shoe chain is re-emerging amid a global pandemic, at a time when many discount retailers are filing for bankruptcy protections, and after two bankruptcies in three years. Payless previously filed for bankruptcy in February 2019, shuttering 2,500 U.S. stores, and before that it filed for Chapter 11 protections in April 2017. 

However, in an on-camera exclusive interview with TheStreet's Katherine Ross, Payless CEO Jared Margolis said the retailer has "taken a lot of learnings from what's happened in the past" and is set up for success.

"We felt like this was the time for us to come back because the people need us," said Margolis. "[The people] want to pay less -- they need to pay less."

As part of the comeback strategy, Payless is helmed by new executive management.  It's re-emerging with renewed emphasis on value, selective store openings, and celebrity or influencer collaborations. Margolis said Payless has streamlined its organization and built a strong design team focused heavily on the digital space.

"Payless had 4,000 stores at one point, and we're not looking to go anywhere near that," said Margolis. Instead, the retailer is hoping to create a "brick-and-click experience."

On partnering with celebrities or influencers, Margolis said, "Payless has always been a family brand. We're speaking to all -- whether it's a celebrity, whether it's an influencer, or whether it's our local heroes on the front line, we're going to be partnering and creating content across the board."

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