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Corral West Ranchwear's parent company has again filed for bankruptcy protection, putting more than 100 stores at risk, including nine in Montana and 12 in Wyoming.

BTWW Retail, based in Dallas, filed the bankruptcy papers Monday in Texas. The same corporation went through Chapter 11 reorganization five years ago.

The retailer owns and operates more than 130 stores throughout the United States under the names Corral West, Boot Town, Sergeant's Western World, Western Warehouse and Workwear Depot.

Corral West, based in Cheyenne, Wyo., started business in 1951 in Red Lodge under the name Red Lodge Trading Post. The stores eventually covered a territory ranging from Alaska to Georgia and west to California.

Calls to corporate officers in Cheyenne and to Corral West store employees in Billings drew "no comment" responses.

The trail for Corral West and its parent company has been a rocky one this decade.

In October, Boot Barn Holding Corp. bought 22 BTWW stores in Arizona, California, Nevada and New Mexico for an undisclosed amount. The stores will be renamed Boot Barn after the holidays.

In September, Corral West's chief executive, Larry Hager, said the slumping retail business spurred the sale to rival Boot Barn. Hager also said the sale was unrelated to a $650,000 civil lawsuit over delinquent accounts. That lawsuit, he said, was close to being resolved. Last April, Hager was appointed chief executive of Corral West, and he also serves as the acting chief financial officer of BTWW. Before joining Corral West, Hager spent 22 years in management at Montgomery Ward.

In 2006, Corral West Ranchwear branched out into selling work wear, apparently because sales of Western-style apparel were falling. That year, the chain was running 95 stores.

In 2004, company employees and managers took back control of Corral West from a New York City investment company by buying back a majority of shares.

Today, Corral West operates 72 stores in 15 states: Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Colorado, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma and Georgia.

Contact Jan Falstad at jfalstad@billingsgazette.com or 657-1306.

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