UPDATE 1-U.S. department store chain Bon-Ton files for bankruptcy

(Adds assets, liabilities from court filing; detail on store closures, operations, background)

Feb 4 (Reuters) - Bon-Ton Stores Inc said on Sunday it filed for bankruptcy protection to restructure its debt and explore a potential sale, making it the first major U.S. brick-and-mortar retailer to do so this year.

The York, Pennsylvania-based department store operator, which has about 260 stores, listed assets in the range of $50,001 to $100,000 and liabilities in the range of $500 million to $1 million, according to a Chapter 11 filing with the Delaware bankruptcy court.

Department store operators have been struggling to fend off online sellers like Amazon.com Inc as shoppers increasingly choose to shop over the internet and mall foot traffic declines.

Last year, more than 15 U.S. retailers filed for bankruptcy, the most in six years, as consumers moved more of their shopping online.

During the court-supervised process, Bon-Ton plans to continue operating in the normal course, it said.

Bon-Ton said it received a commitment of up to $725 million in debtor-in-possession financing from its existing ABL lenders to support its operations.

The company reiterated it would shutter 47 stores across the country, with the bulk concentrated in Illinois, Indiana, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

"We are currently engaged in discussions with potential investors and our debtholders on a financial restructuring plan," Chief Executive Bill Tracy said in a statement.

Bon-Ton said its stores, e-commerce and mobile platforms under the Bon-Ton, Bergner's, Boston Store, Carson's, Elder-Beerman, Herberger's and Younkers nameplates are open and operating as usual.

AlixPartners LLP is serving as restructuring adviser and PJT Partners Inc is acting as financial adviser, the company said. (Reporting by Subrat Patnaik in Bengaluru; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier)