The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

State, national, world

January 17, 2014

No Oklahoma J.C. Penney stores to close

J.C. Penney announced this week it will close 33 stores but none of those stores closing are in Oklahoma.

The cuts also include eliminating 2,000 jobs as part of the store’s turnaround efforts and have an expected savings of $65 million.

A list of stores closing include five locations in Wisconsin, the highest number of closings in any state. Several Pennsylvania store also are slated to close, the second highest number of closings in a single state.

There are no store closings listed for Kansas, Texas or Arkansas. Colorado Springs will lose its Chapel Hills Mall location.

J.C. Penney Co., based in Plano, Texas, said earlier this month said it was pleased with its holiday results but declined to give sales figures, raising worries among Wall Street analysts about how the season actually fared.

The cuts announced Wednesday should save more than $65 million annually. The company will take $26 million in pretax charges in the third quarter and $17 million in future quarters. Penney has 116,000 staffers and operates more than 1,100 stores. All the job cuts are related to the store closings.

The holiday season is crucial since it can account for anywhere from 20 percent to 40 percent of a retailer's annual sales. But at J.C. Penney, the stakes are higher.

Penney is trying to recover from massive losses and plummeting sales drops that occurred under former CEO Ron Johnson, who was ousted in April after being on the job for 17 months. The company then brought back former CEO Mike Ullman.

Penney has since reinstated the frequent sales events that Johnson ditched. It's also restored basic merchandise, particularly store brands like St. John's Bay, which were either phased out or eliminated in a bid to attract younger, more affluent shoppers.

Penney had been releasing monthly sales figures over the last few months, which had showed some improvement. Sales at stores open at least a year edged up 0.9 percent in October — the first increase since December 2011. That's a key indicator of a retailer's health. Last month, the company said that revenue at stores opened at least a year jumped 10.1 percent in November, helped by a strong start to the holiday season.

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