NORTH READING, Mass. (Jan. 23)—Athletic footwear maker Converse Inc., facing rising claims from creditors, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection so it can proceed with a reorganization plan that includes closing its three North American manufacturing plants and shifting production to an Asian supplier. The closings, to be completed no later than March 31, will result in 1,000 job losses. Converse, known for its Chuck Taylor basketball shoes and Jack Purcell tennis shoes, will become exclusively a licensor of Converse-brand products, the company said. "This voluntary filing, together with our plans to streamline Converse as an efficient worldwide manager of our strong brand, will give us the opportunity to return Converse to financial health," company Chairman and CEO Glenn Rupp said. Converse´s North American production will shift to factories of Taiwan´s Pou Chen Group, the firm said. Pou Chen is considered the world´s largest supplier of athletic footwear, Converse said, and one of four key suppliers of Converse´s current offshore production.