2001-11-16Quality Farm and Fleet files for bankruptcy—>

LaPorte store to remain in business

Daniel Przybyla

Quality Farm and Fleet's parent company, Quality Stores, Inc. has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

The Muskegon, Mich.-based farming retailer made the announcement Nov. 1.

Quality Farm and Fleet, 71 Pine Lake Ave., will remain open, a store official said Thursday.

Through Chapter 11, Quality Stores is seeking relief from its financial obligations prior to the bankruptcy filing. The retailer had borrowed all the money it could and is unable to pay its bills, said Chief Executive Officer Peter Fitszsimmons.

The state of the economy had less to do with Quality's bankruptcy than it did for some other retailers who are having a tougher time selling their product, Fitzsimmons said.

Quality Stores plans to focus operations on two distribution centers and 178 stores in its historically strong markets in the Midwest and East coast, including Indiana, Ohio, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Vermont, Massachusetts, Virginia, West Virginia and Kentucky, according to a company press release.

There are 12 Quality Farm and Fleets in Indiana, as well as five other Quality Stores.

As part of the restructuring effort, a total of 133 stores and two distribution centers will close in the western half of the U.S. As a result, about 1,500 people will lose their jobs.

"Quality Stores has made considerable progress in reducing its costs and streamlining its operations," Fitzsimmons said in a press release. "A voluntary Chapter 11 petition provides us a process and framework within which we can continue to address the significant issues facing the company."

As one of its options, Quality Stores will seek a buyer for the company, officials said.

Quality Stores operates stores under the following names in addition to Quality Farm and Fleet: Quality Farm and Country, and County Post and Central Tractor Farm and Country. Its 1,200 vendors feature more than 25,000 products, including agriculture, animal health, feeds, pet truck and trailer, home improvement, hardware, electrical, plumbing, lawn and garden energy and clothing.

The LaPorte store opened at 1209 E. Ind. 2 in 1972, moving to Pine Lake Avenue in 1993. The sales floor increased from 16,000 square feet to 57,000 square feet.

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