Rent-A-Center to close 150 stores, launch virtual in-store kiosks

Rent-A-Center Inc. (NASDAQ:RCII) said it will close 150 U.S. stores following a dismal first quarter that saw a 37 percent decline in profit.

Rent-A-Center did not disclose the locations of the stores to be shuttered, but said customer accounts from the closed stores will be consolidated to other nearby locations. The stores will close by the end of this quarter.

The rent-to-own retailer has 2,997 stores in the U.S. The last time Rent-A-Center closed a large batch of stores was at the end of 2007 when it closed 280 stores, a spokesman for the company said. That was the start of the recession.

While it will be closing the doors of its freestanding stores, Rent-A-Center plans to open roughly 100 Acceptance Now kiosks in the U.S. and expand the program with a virtual kiosk pilot that it has already begun testing. Acceptance Now kiosks provide rent-to-own agreements to customers of other chains, including Conn's, Rooms To Go and Ashley Furniture, who don't qualify for credit. The kiosk division reported a revenue increase of 37 percent.

Rent-A-Center's first-quarter profit dropped 37 percent to $28.9 million from $46.1 million last year. Same-store sales fell 6.1 percent in the U.S. stores due to lower customer demand, the company said.

For more:
-See this Rent-A-Center press release

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