The owner of the Mandee, Annie Sez and Afaze clothing stores is citing effects from Superstorm Sandy as it seeks Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in New Jersey.

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Totowa, N.J.-based Big M Inc. filed the petition in U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

The company was recovering from the economic downturn when the late October storm closed most of its stores in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut for a week or more along with its offices and distribution center.

Business never rebounded. Documents show the family-owned retailer hasn't collected from its insurance carrier. Big M says that left it without enough cash to operate.

Westport Insurance Corp. says it's committed to promptly and fairly resolving Sandy-related claims.

Big M reports debt of about $15 million. It was founded in 1948, operates 129 stores in eight states and employs about 1,200 people.


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