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June 14, 2017

Bon-Ton to leave Maine Mall in August

Department store Bon-Ton at the Maine Mall in South Portland will close at the end of August, its struggling owner announced on Tuesday.

The Bon-Ton Stores Inc. (NASDAQ: BONT), which has dual headquarters in York, Pa., and Milwaukee, said in a press release that the move will impact about 55 employees in South Portland. Without giving details, it said the employees will receive severance and other career transition benefits.

"Bon-Ton evaluates its store portfolio on an ongoing basis to determine our stores' long-term viability," Steve Byers, the company's executive vice president, said in a statement.

He added that closing a store is never an easy decision and thanked customers as well as associates at the South Portland location "for their dedication and friendly customer service to this community."

The Bon-Ton Stores operates 261 stores in 25 states in the Northeast, Midwest and upper Great Plains under the Bon-Ton, Bergner's, Boston Store, Carson's, Elder-Beerman, Herberger's and Younkers banners.

In the past month the company unveiled a management reshuffle and weak 2017 earnings marked by an 8.8% decline in comparable-store sales and a net loss that widened to $57.3 million from $37.8 million a year earlier.

Bon-Ton expects a loss per share this year in the range of $2.08 to $2.59 and as it looks to trim debt by $20 million to $30 million by the end of fiscal year 2017. It recently received an extension of a $730 million credit facility that had been due to mature in 2018, buying itself extra time until 2022.

Bon-Ton has an equity value of $10.5 million, based on Tuesday's closing share price of $0.49. The stock value has fallen 68% over the past year.

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