J.C. Penney To Permanently Close About 242 Stores

Struggling retailer J. C. Penney Co. Inc., which is going through bankruptcy protection, plans to permanently close about 242 stores, according to a regulatory filing with the Securities and Exchanges Commission.

In a separate development, Women’s Wear Daily reported that e-commerce giant Amazon.Com Inc. is planning to buy J.C. Penney to bolster its apparel business.

The company, which filed for Chapter 11 protection last Friday, said it plans to cut around 29 percent of its total 846 stores. The company would close about 192 stores by February next year, and about 50 stores in 2022. Following this, the company would be operating around 604 stores, which accounted for 82% of its fiscal 2019 sales.

J.C. Penney said in the SEC filing, “The approximately 604 future fleet represent the highest sales-generating, most profitable, and most productive stores in the network.”

The coronavirus lockdown and related crisis has been taking a toll on retailers as majority of brick and mortar stores stay closed across the globe. J.C. Penney filed for bankruptcy protection citing the impact of unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic on its business. The company then noted that it would reduce its store footprint to better align its business with the current operating environment.

During the restructuring process, the company will open select stores and continue to offer contact-free curbside pickup service at all open stores. JCPenney’s eCommerce distribution centers continue to fulfill online orders and customer care centers are answering inquiries as usual.

The retailer had closed stores in recent years following weak results and hefty debt of around $4 billion.

Last week, CEO Jill Soltau said the closure of stores due to the pandemic necessitated a more fulsome review to include the elimination of outstanding debt.

Amid the ongoing Covid-19 crisis, Neiman Marcus Group Inc., J.Crew Group Inc. and Stage Stores Inc. have all filed for bankruptcy this month.

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