(Bloomberg) -- Francesca’s Holdings Corp. is preparing to file for bankruptcy, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

The boutique-style women’s clothing chain could file as soon as next week, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the process isn’t public. The timing and plan could still change.

Representatives for Francesca’s didn’t respond to multiple phone and email requests seeking comment.

The move would come as the retail sector’s holiday shopping season kicks into high gear. The firm would be the latest of roughly three dozen chains that have sought bankruptcy protection in the U.S. this year, including J.C. Penney Co. and Brooks Brothers Group Inc. For many, the coronavirus was simply the final blow as companies struggled with the shift from brick-and-mortar to online shopping.

Francesca’s problems predate the disruption that came in the wake of the pandemic. It posted two years of losses and scrapped a strategic review last year after top executives departed. The Houston-based retailer named Andrew Clarke as its new chief executive officer in February after a delayed search. Clarke earlier headed the Loft chain of Ascena Retail Group Inc., which has also made a trip to bankruptcy court this year.

Francesca’s said in September that it had hired advisers to explore strategic alternatives, including bankruptcy. Last week, it announced that it would permanently close about 140 of its 700 stores and seek bankruptcy protection if it couldn’t raise more capital.

The company opened its first store in Houston in 1999, touting its frequently changing inventory. Its stores in malls and on main streets cater to 18- to 35-year-old shoppers, featuring apparel, accessories and gifts.

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