CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — The North Carolina-based department store chain Belk says it will file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The Charlotte Observer reports that private equity firm Sycamore Partners made the announcement on Tuesday. The firm owns Belk and says it will continue with “normal operations” as it goes through bankruptcy. Sycamore Partners says it expects to emerge from bankruptcy by the end of February. The 133-year-old chain grew from the opening of a store in Monroe, North Carolina, in 1888. The Belk family sold the chain for $3 billion in 2015. Belk has more than 20,000 employees at its nearly 300 stores in 16 Southeastern states.