Bebe is closing all its stores by the end of May

The Brisbane-based chain has a total of 168 retail and outlet stores as of March, including Orange County locations in Brea, Irvine, Mission Viejo, Newport Beach and Santa Ana.

The company could not immediately be reached for comment.

In a regulatory filing, company officials said they would liquidate all merchandise and fixtures inside their stores.

About bebe stores, inc.

Bebe Stores (BEBE) says its clothing brand was inspired by Shakespeare's famous "to be, or not to be" soliloquy from Hamlet.

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The chain is closing its stores after years of declining sales and losses. For the six months ended January 2, same-store sales decreased 7.4%. The company posted a net loss of $13 million during that period, down from $22.5 million a year earlier. Gross margin as a percentage of net sales edged up to 34.4% compared to 34.0% previous year, thanks to a reduction in markdowns and promotions.

Bebe was founded by CEO Manny Mashouf in San Francisco in 1976. Retailers including Sears (S) and Macy's (M) are among the other large brick-and-mortar retailers also struggling with changing tastes in styles and shopping preferences.

Bebe is the latest fashion retailer to succumb to sluggish sales due to fierce competition from online companies.

Last summer the retailer struck a deal with brand management company Bluestar Alliance to develop its wholesale business overseas, where the retailer retains a higher profile than in the U.S. In his second quarter statement, Mashouf said the retailer's reduction of expenses helped its bottom line. It has 134 retail stores and 34 outlet stores across the country. It will then convert to an online-only operation.

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