Dillard’s at Boulevard to close

Management at the Dillard’s department store chain said the company will close its store at Boulevard Mall.

About 150 employees at the store learned about the decision Friday morning, Dillard’s spokeswoman Julie Bull said.

The Boulevard Mall store will close in late October and is one of four Dillard’s locations in Las Vegas; the other three will remain open, Bull said.

Nationally, the department store chain has plans to close 13 of about 330 locations.

"They are not as profitable as we would like them to be," she said.

Bull said the company will try to help employees find work at Dillard’s at Meadows or Fashion Show malls in Las Vegas or Galleria at Sunset mall in Henderson.

Dillard’s Inc. is having a tough time weathering the economic storm that’s rocked the retail industry.

Analysts surveyed by The Associated Press expect the company, headquartered in Little Rock, Ark., to post a second-quarter loss of 54 cents per share on revenue of $1.62 billion in its upcoming earnings report.

The company’s own Web site says sales nationwide are down 4 percent in the past 26 weeks to $3.4 billion and same-store sales, a key measure of retail health, were down 5 percent.

Although the company’s increased 4 percent in the four weeks ended Aug. 2, it reported the increase was mainly from stores in its central region and that sales in the Eastern and Western regions were down.

The retailer was especially hard hit in the junior’s and children’s apparel category, suggesting a rough back-to-school season. The home and furniture category, which can reflect consumer enthusiasm over home values, were also, "significantly below trend," the company reported.

Locally, Boulevard Mall was the first modern indoor mall in Las Vegas and for decades was the valley’s most prestigious mall. More recently the mall has been surpassed by shopping in Henderson, Summerlin and on the Strip. A $55 million renovation project completed in the early 1990s resulted in the mall’s current look.

"That whole mall remodel was tremendous, and Dillard’s was the dominant store," said Maria Rokovitz, a longtime department store worker in Las Vegas who once worked at Dillard’s at Boulevard Mall as well as its predecessors, Diamond’s and Ronzone’s.

Rokowitz wasn’t surprised to learn the store would close.

"It has seen its better days," she said of Boulevard.

The shutdown could also be a blow to Boulevard owner General Growth Properties of Chicago.

Dillard’s is a major tenant with a multilevel store anchoring the south end of Boulevard Mall.

The closure could leave a gaping hole in the mall and be yet another piece of bad news for General Growth Properties of Chicago, which also owns Fashion Show and Meadows malls, Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian and Shoppes at Palazzo.

The company recently put the brakes on a mall development under way in the Echelon resort, contributing to Boyd Gaming Corp.’s decision earlier this month to halt construction on the $4.8 billion project. Around the same time, General Growth announced it would postpone completion of its Summerlin Centre development near Red Rock Resort.

Stock in the company, which is the nation’s second-largest real estate investment trust, hit a 52-week low of $23.84 on Friday, according to The Wall Street Journal. The stock closed at $24.98 on the New York Stock Exchange, down $1.25, or 5.27 percent.

General Growth officials did not respond to an interview request.

Dillard’s shares rose 77 cents, or 6.93 percent, Friday to close at $11.85 on the NYSE.

Contact reporter Benjamin Spillman at bspillman@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3861.

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