WILLMAR—The JCPenney store in the Kandi Mall in Willmar is one of 154 stores the company is closing, it was announced Thursday. The company filed for bankruptcy last month.
J.C. Penney Company Inc. announced Thursday the first step in its “store optimization strategy,” and identified the first phase of 154 store closures, including Willmar’s. Other Midwest closings include Coon Rapids, Eden Prairie and Maple Grove in Minnesota, Brookings, South Dakota, and Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin. No North Dakota locations were on this initial closing list.
The company said in a news release that it evaluated its retail footprint and undertook a careful analysis of store performance and future strategic fit. The company said it intends to reduce its store footprint and focus resources on its strongest stores and powerful eCommerce flagship store, jcp.com.
“While closing stores is always an extremely difficult decision, our store optimization strategy is vital to ensuring we emerge from both Chapter 11 and the COVID-19 pandemic as a stronger retailer with greater financial flexibility to allow us to continue serving our loyal customers for decades to come,” said Jill Soltau, chief executive officer of JCPenney, in the release.
Store closing sales will begin at the locations following entry of an order at the June 11 hearing with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas, in Corpus Christi, Texas.
Additional phases of store closing sales will begin in the coming weeks, the company said in the news release.
Store closing sales for the first round of store closures are expected to take 10-16 weeks to complete.
“We will remain one of the nation’s largest apparel and home retailers as we continue to operate a majority of our stores and our flagship store, jcp.com, to ensure our valued customers continue to have access to the products and brands they need and want,” Soltau said in the release. “As of June 4, 2020, we have reopened nearly 500 stores since government officials have eased COVID-19 restrictions and we look forward to opening more.”
As announced on May 15, JCPenney entered into a restructuring support agreement with lenders holding approximately 70 percent of JCPenney’s first lien debt to reduce the company’s outstanding indebtedness and strengthen its financial position, according to the release. To implement the financial restructuring plan, the company filed voluntary petitions for reorganization under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.
West Central Tribune by Susan Lunneborg