Return of the retailer: Century 21 relaunches

Months after declaring bankruptcy and folding, discount chain says will open first store in South Korea; announcement for NYC and rest of US to follow

National Weekend Edition /
Feb.February 27, 2021 02:00 PM
Century 21 president Marc Benitez (LinkedIn; iStock)

Century 21 president Marc Benitez (LinkedIn; iStock)

Attention shoppers: Century 21 is coming back.

The New York-based discount retail chain that built a loyal following but folded after declaring bankruptcy in September, announced its planned return last week.

In a statement on Tuesday, Century 21 Stores said the decision to relaunch came “in response to the outpouring of love from the Big Apple and the admiration” of their “loyal shoppers from around the world.”

The announcement was light on details, but the company said it would open its first store in South Korea this year. News about its New York and nationwide relaunch will follow in the coming weeks, the statement said.

The Gindi family, which started the brand in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, in 1961, bought back the intellectual property at a bankruptcy auction in the fall.

The pandemic slammed into then upended the retail industry, forcing stores like Century 21 to shutter their locations nationwide. Retailers fell far behind on rent payments, with many shedding stores, and some declaring bankruptcy or getting acquired. When Century 21 filed for Chapter 11, it said it was forced to do so after insurers declined its business interruption insurance claims.

Last month, the retailer hired Marc Benitez as its president. Benitez spent nearly 14 years with the luxury goods brand Coach, and over three years with Kenneth Cole Productions. He also spent time as a vice president at Authentic Brands Group and CAA-GBG Global Brands Management Group. Benitez was a general manager at Century 21 from 1998 to 2001.

The Gindis weathered a tumultuous 2020. Two months after Century 21 declared bankruptcy, developer Ben Ashkenazy sued the family, claiming it diverted money from him and damaged his reputation. The Gindis have invested in some of Ashkenazy’s commercial properties. The family claims that Ashkenazy stole money from them.


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