Pirch, a chain lauded as a retail savior, will shut most stores

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Pirch, a high-end appliance and kitchen chain that's been praised for its innovative retail experiences, is planning to

Pirch, a high-end appliance and kitchen chain that's been praised for its innovative retail experiences, is planning to shutter most of its locations as it overhauls operations.

The business, known for its in-store chefs and try-before-you-buy ethos, is refocusing on its profitable stores in California, a representative said in an emailed statement. The closely held company, which is backed by private equity firm L Catterton, has already closed its showroom in Austin, Texas — despite the store only opening in May.

Pirch is in discussions with landlords at its remaining five locations on the East Coast and in the Midwest, the San Diego-based company said.

"Pirch has made the strategic decision to refocus its footprint and pace of expansion," it said in the statement. "Our California stores are performing well and profitable, and we remain focused on growth in this region."

Pirch is in the the process of shuttering its locations in Dallas, suburban Chicago and Atlanta, which are currently scheduled to close Sept. 30. Though negotiations continue, the company's stores in Paramus, N.J., and New York's SoHo neighborhood are also scheduled for closure at the end of the month.

The announcement comes as another blow to the retail industry looking for a silver bullet in the face of sinking mall traffic and sluggish sales. Last October, Pirch said it had more than an estimated $3,000 in annual sales per square foot, rivaling the lucrative take at Apple's storied stores. The retailer opened its 10th location, a 21,000-square-foot showroom with two working kitchens in Austin in May.

Pirch's strategy of inviting customers to play house in its stores was seen as a beacon for one of retailing's hottest products: experiences. Americans increasingly would rather spend their money making memories like travel to meals out than on another outfit. Only three months ago, the company was named one of Inc. Magazine's 25 most disruptive companies of the year.

The company hired Andrea Dorigo as chief executive officer last year, succeeding co-founder Jeffery Sears. Dorigo joined Pirch from Luxottica, where he was the president of the Oakley sunglasses brand.

But Pirch's stumble suggests that cracking the code to retail's challenges may prove more difficult.

"We remain confident that our unique business model will be successful on a more focused scale, and we are committed to delivering on our founding mission of providing customers exciting new ways to shop for the home through our innovative multibrand immersion experience," the company said.

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