Century 21 to Close Its Stores, Blaming Insurers for Denying Claims

Century 21, long a favorite shopping destination for tourists and locals alike, says it is "winding down" and will close its stores. Photo: Carl Glassman/Tribeca Trib

Sep. 11, 2020

Century 21, Lower Manhattan’s premier retailer of discount designer goods, is closing shop. The store, which opened Downtown in 1961, announced on Thursday it will be shutting its flagship Cortlandt Street location and all 13 other outlets plus its online store, and is filing for bankruptcy protection. 

In a statement, co-CEO Raymond Gindi blamed the financial collapse and what he claims is an unwillingness by the insurers to pay for losses caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. The store, he said, has “no viable alternative but to begin the closure of our beloved family business because our insurers, to whom we have paid significant premiums every year for protection against unforeseen circumstances like we are experiencing today, have turned their backs on us at this most critical time.” 

The company, which recovered from the 9/11 attacks with the help of insurance payouts, said its decision to close comes after insurers this time denying $175 million in claims. It is suing several of the insurance companies in State Supreme Court for failure to be compensated for its losses.

"While retailers across the board have suffered greatly due to COVID-19, and Century 21 is no exception, we are confident that had we received any meaningful portion of the insurance proceeds, we would have been able to save thousands of jobs and weather the storm, in hopes of another incredible recovery,” Gindi said.

The company said it is launching going-out-of-business sales in its stores and online. While it says it is “winding down,” no date was given for the store’s last day. A letter to customers concluded: “We thank you for your unwavering loyalty, appreciate your continued support, and look forward to helping you create some final memorable Century Stories.”