DETROIT (AP) Specialty retailer Jacobson Stores Inc. announced yesterday it had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and was closing five of its 23 stores.

Calling the move “a new beginning” for the struggling company, Jacobson spokesman Frederick Marx said there will be “no interruption of store operations for the 18 remaining stores.”

“Our intent is to move forward with our best stores, and the court-approved reorganization does allow us to be competitive,” Marx said.

With a bankruptcy judge”s approval, the retailer plans to close underperforming stores in Columbus and Toledo, Ohio, and Clearwater, Osprey and Tampa, Fla. About 520 jobs would be cut.

The company also operates Jacobson”s stores in Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky and Kansas. The planned closures would eliminate the retailer”s Ohio presence and leave eight stores in Florida.

Jacobson also announced an agreement with Boston-based Fleet Retail Finance Inc. and Back Bay Capital Funding LLC for $130 million to finance the company”s reorganization.

“They”ve solidified their bank relationships so that they can ensure an influx of inventory,” said Gary Giumetti, president of McTevia & Associates, a management and financial consulting firm in Eastpointe. “They can”t sell from an empty shelf, and that”s what they were facing.”

In December, Jacobson reported a third-quarter net loss of $13.9 million, or $2.40 per share. In a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the company said it would default on a $150 million line of credit unless it negotiated new deals with its lenders.

The company had failed to uphold several loan covenants and announced that it would not make interest and other payments due on some of its debts.

“Jacobson”s is somewhat of an anomaly,” Giumetti said. “They”re a 23-store chain with operations in six different states. They just did not have the critical mass to able to keep up with the major stores.”

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