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Priscilla of Boston Closure: Another High-End Hit for Suburban Square

But the unique shopping center is in demand, its GM says, and more than 95 percent full.

For a decade or two now, corporations have been as layered as a tiered, ruffled, A-line wedding dress with a chapel-length train and a mantilla-style veil.

So despite the economy, it’s no wonder that the demise of a store like is tough to figure—it has an impeccable 65-year pedigree among Beantown bluebloods and was Grace Kelly’s designer of choice for her wedding gown. And since its arrival in late 2009, it has had apparent success on the Main Line at .

“Actually it was quite a surprise for us that they were closing all the Priscillas,” said Mark Bachus, Suburban Square’s general manager. “They did quite well here, and they had a really strong brand.”

But Priscilla of Boston in 2011, compared to its heyday, is at once bloated and a shadow of itself. Though David’s Bridal is considered the parent company of Priscilla, both chains are owned by a private equity firm called Leonard Green & Partners, which bought them in 2007 from Federated Department Stores—which has since changed its named to Macy’s Inc. (NYSE: M) after its 2005 purchase of the franchise (which also has a presence in Suburban Square).

Since the acquisition, Leonard Green, based in Los Angeles, increased the number of Priscilla outlets from 10 to 19. This past summer, it acquired BJ’s Wholesale Club, another Massachusetts chain, which seems distasteful to mention in a story that includes the Princess of Monaco. Now, according to published reports in the Boston Globe, Boston Business Journal and the Associated Press, the firm is shuttering all 19 Priscilla stores, with prices for gowns in the tens of thousands of dollars, and bolstering its more down-market David’s line, with tag prices in the hundreds to low four figures.

“I think with a lot of these companies, they’re looking at their different divisions they have, and if the majority of them are not performing, then unfortunately they close all of them,” Bachus said.

Coach

That’s not the case with (NYSE: COH), but that company did downsize its number of stores, including the one in Suburban Square, this past Spring—meaning two high-end, high-profile closures for the mall since May.

“Again, it was a corporate decision when they downsized,” Bachus said of Coach. “Overall we are seeing a tough time—a lot of these places are bankruptcies or closings, but on the other hand we are seeing just as much new activity.”

Suburban Square has an occupancy rate of more than 95 percent, the GM reports. “We do have quite a few things in the works,” he said. “Nonetheless we always hate to lose a tenant.”

Priscilla of Boston is not taking any new orders but is fulfilling all its obligations to brides that have already placed them. The Suburban Square store will remain open through December.

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