Image courtesy: JC Penney
By Joshua Burd
One JC Penney store in southern New Jersey will be among nearly 140 that are slated to close nationwide as the retailer looks to combat drops in sales and maintain profitability.
A list circulated Friday shows the company will shutter the location at Rio Grande Plaza in Middle Township, located at 1500 Route 47. The other 13 JC Penney locations in New Jersey have been spared in the wave of store closures, which the retailer announced in February in a bid to “adjust our business to effectively compete against the growing threat of online retailers.”
Marvin R. Ellison, chairman and CEO of J. C. Penney Co. Inc., said that the company in 2016 delivered a net profit for the first time since 2010. But, he added, “we believe we must take aggressive action to better align our retail operations for sustainable growth.”
“During the year, it became evident the stores that could fully execute the Company’s growth initiatives of beauty, home refresh and special sizes generated significantly higher sales, and a more vibrant in-store shopping environment,” Ellison said in a prepared statement at the time. “We believe the relevance of our brick and mortar portfolio will be driven by the implementation of these initiatives consistently to a larger percent of our stores.
“Therefore, our decision to close stores will allow us to raise the overall brand standard of the Company and allocate capital more efficiently.”
The announcement followed the news last year that Macy’s would close nearly 70 stores nationwide, including three in New Jersey. Other iconic retail brands, including Sears Holdings, have also made similar decisions that would result in store closures in the Garden State.
The plan by Plano, Texas-based JC Penney is part of a move to “optimize retail operations, advance growth and drive profitability,” the company said. Published reports say most of the stores would be shut down by June.
The full list of JC Penney store closings0317_list_of_store_closures
“Maintaining a large store base gives us a competitive advantage in the evolving retail landscape since our physical stores are a destination for personalized beauty offerings, a broad array of special sizes, affordable private brands and quality home goods and services,” Ellison said. “It is essential to retain those locations that present the best expression of the JCPenney brand and function as a seamless extension of the omnichannel experience through online order fulfillment, same-day pick up, exchanges and returns.”
Ellison also said, “We understand that closing stores will impact the lives of many hard working associates,” which is why the company has initiated a voluntary early retirement program for some 6,000 eligible employees.