Financially struggling Seibu Department Stores Ltd. plans to step up its restructuring efforts by closing four outlets in August, well ahead of schedule, company sources said Friday.

The outlets are in Hakodate, Hokkaido; Toyohashi, Aichi Prefecture; Sendai and Kawasaki.

The company had originally considered closing or reducing their operations by February 2008, which will mark the end of a five-year restructuring program that will get under way in the 2003 business year.

The accelerated plan comes after Seibu on Tuesday asked its six main creditor banks, led by Mizuho Corporate Bank, and its affiliate, Credit Saison Co., to provide 230 billion yen in financial aid.

The company decided to halt operations at the Hakodate, Sendai and Kawasaki outlets because they have suffered pretax losses and it is unlikely their balance sheets will improve, the sources said.

It will close the Toyohashi outlet, which has been in the black on a pretax basis, because of its aging building, they said.

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