No Fear chain seeks bankruptcy protection

Carlsbad apparel company No Fear Retail Stores Inc., which soared to popularity in the 1990s with catchy slogans such as "Losing is not an option," has filed for bankruptcy protection.

No Fear, which has 41 stores in California, Arizona, Nevada and four other states, said in a news release that it had been hammered by the "state of the economy and the difficult operating environment within our industry."

In the months leading up to Thursday's bankruptcy filing in San Diego, the company had been sued by numerous shopping malls for falling months behind in rent for its retail stores.

The bankruptcy filing will allow the company to reorganize its finances while it continues to remain in operation, said Mark Simo, the company's chief executive. The company has closed some stores in an effort to reduce costs, but intends to operate its remaining outlets during the reorganization.

No Fear is a retailer of action sports and casual lifestyle apparel, targeting teenagers and young adults. Its stores sell No Fear-branded clothing as well as Spy Optic.

The company had struggled in the last several years for a share of the active sports market, analyst Mitchell Kummetz of Robert W. Baird & Co. told The Times recently.

"You look at the landscape of action sports brands, you do have a few that stand out for having maintained an authenticity and growing their business nicely: Quiksilver, Billabong and O'Neill," he said. "And there are some brands that were once very strong and now are not. No Fear would be one of those brands."

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