NORCROSS, Ga. (AP) _ Kuppenheimer Manufacturing Co. on Tuesday filed for bankruptcy protection in what its owners said was a needed step to rescue the 118-year-old men clothing chain.

Kupp Acquisition Corp. and its subsidiaries filed for Chapter 11 protection in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware, listing assets of $42 million and debts of $43.6 million.

The joint venture said it shut Kuppenheimer's Glen Rock, N.J. office and consolidated its headquarters at the chain's Atlanta office.

Stuart Fetter, chief executive of the Silverman Group, one of the joint venture partners, said the company is cutting overhead costs and has begun to turn around its finances.

Mark Stein, president of the other partner, The Ozer Group, said the filing would enable Kuppenheimer to buy new merchandise for the spring and fall seasons.

Kuppenheimer operates 87 stores in 18 states. It has manufacturing facilities in Loganville, Ga., and Wellston, Ohio.