By Bloomberg August 20, 2020 20:38

NEW YORK, United States - Landlords who rent space to the bankrupt owner of the Ann Taylor and Lane Bryant clothing chains are objecting to its request for a two-month deferral on rent payments.

A group of Ascena Retail Group Inc. landlords said in court papers Wednesday that a deferral isn't reasonable because most of the company's stores are operating despite the pandemic.

Ascena, which also owns the Loft, Catherines and Justice clothing chains, asked for the deferral last month, saying the pandemic had forced it to temporarily close all its stores and created ongoing business uncertainty.

The landlords argued that Ascena's request implies it doesn't intend to pay rent and will use the deferral period to seek lease concessions. A hearing on the matter is scheduled for Aug. 26.

Other national retailers have sought to lower their lease payments and open negotiations with landlords as the pandemic forced temporary store closures and depressed foot traffic. In June, Inc.'s chief executive officer said the firm was in talks with landlords and was paying what it considered "fair rent" as it re-opened locations.

Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. also deferred some lease payments and clothing retailer Guess? Inc. suspended rent remittance in April and began negotiations with landlords as it planned other store closures.

Ascena filed for bankruptcy July 23 with plans to close more than half its 2,800 stores and hand control to its lenders.

By Josh Saul.

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