KNOXVILLE - American Eagle Outfitters will close its Knoxville Center Mall location "on or around Jan. 31," a company representative confirmed to WBIR 10News on Tuesday.
In addition, Champs Sports also is expected to pull out sometime soon as well, according to a spokesman for the mall.
The move for American Eagle comes as the company works to shut down its brick-and-mortar stores and put more emphasis toward online shopping.
Last January, company executives announced plans to create a mobile-friendly website, since customers more and more shop on their smartphones.
Officials with the Pittsburgh-based retailer told analysts back in 2014 the plan was to close 150 stores over three years, according to media reports. The closings would help cut overhead and tighten inventory as the company works to invest in digital sales.
An official who spoke with WBIR 10News on Tuesday said he couldn’t comment further on the closing.
In September, Brant Enderle, a member of Knoxville Partners, LLC, which has ties to the area as well as Minnesota, paid more than $12 million for the mall, which is located in East Knoxville.
WBIR reached out to his spokeswoman Patrick King who said they are in discussions with American Eagle and Champs Sports and hope to work out something, so that they stay.
King declined to go into details.
But, he said "we have a lot of positive leasing activity."
King noted that the mall recently renewed contracts with LensCrafters, Kids Footlocker and Footaction and “others."
"Obviously we’re committed to the mall and optimistic about it’s future," he said.
The mall has faced its share of struggles during the past three years as retailers have packed up and moved to outdoor shopping complexes, like Turkey Creek.
In early 2015, at least three stores closed, including Toys- R-Us.
Knoxville Center Mall first opened in July of 1984.
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