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Waldenbooks to Downsize in 2010

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November 5 – November 12, 2009 Edition

Waldenbooks to Downsize in 2010

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (Authorlink News, Nov. 5, 2009)—As part of Borders Group’s ongoing strategy to right-size its Waldenbooks Specialty Retail segment and emerge with a smaller, more profitable mall chain in fiscal 2010, the retailer will close approximately 200 mall stores in January, leaving approximately 130 mall-based locations open. A list of mall stores expected to close is included in this news release and has been posted at www.borders.com/waldenstorelist. The list is not final and is subject to change pending finalization of agreements over the coming weeks. Importantly, today’s announcement regarding the mall business does not include Borders superstores or the company’s seasonal mall kiosk business, which includes over 500 Day by Day Calendar Co. units, among other mall-based retail concepts.

“America has a number of malls that continue to do well and draw customer traffic even in the current economy,” said Borders Group Chief Executive Officer Ron Marshall.  “We believe there remains an opportunity to profitably operate a much smaller Waldenbooks segment that complements our core Borders superstore business and continues to serve readers in their communities. Through this right-sizing, we will reduce the number of stores with operating losses, reduce our overall rent expense and lease-adjusted leverage and generate cash flow through sales and working capital reductions.”

 As long as the stores remain open, all will honor previously purchased gift cards, and gift cards can continue to be used in any Borders or Waldenbooks location or online at Borders.com. There will be no change in member status for customers who joined the Borders Rewards customer loyalty program at locations slated to close.

Stores that remain open will be integrated into the Borders superstore computer system, an investment Borders Group is making to merge all stores to a single platform. This is expected to produce operating efficiencies as well as benefits for mall shoppers, including enhanced store staff capabilities to search for and fulfill customer requests.

With the store closings in January, approximately 1,500 positions—the majority of which are part-time jobs—will be eliminated. Employees have been informed of the right-sizing plan and efforts will be made to place qualified individuals in other positions within Borders Group. Displaced employees will receive severance.

The mall-based right-sizing initiative has been ongoing at Borders Group for a number of years as the retailer has closed underperforming Waldenbooks Specialty Retail stores annually as part of its overall turnaround strategy. The company shuttered 112 stores in the segment in fiscal 2008 and from fiscal 2001 through 2007, closed an average of 66 stores per year within the Waldenbooks Specialty Retail segment. 

About Borders Group, Inc.

Headquartered in Ann Arbor, Mich., Borders Group, Inc. (NYSE: BGP) is a leading specialty retailer of books as well as other educational and entertainment items. The company employs approximately 25,000 throughout the U.S., primarily in its Borders® and Waldenbooks® stores.