J.C. Penney Stores to Close in Benton, Blytheville

PLANO, Texas - Two J.C. Penney (JCP) stores are closing in Arkansas as part of a company plan announced last month to optimize its national retail operations for a successful return to profitability.

The impacted stores are in Benton (Military Plaza) and Blytheville (Chickasaw Plaza). More than 130 other JCP stores are being closed across the country.

According to its website, JCP will continue to operate 14 other stores in Arkansas located in Batesville, Conway, El Dorado, Fayetteville, Fort Smith, Harrison, Hot Springs, Jonesboro, Little Rock and North Little Rock.

The company says about 5,000 positions nationwide will be impacted by the store closures, most of which will occur in June. Associates who will be impacted by the store and distribution center closures will receive separation benefits, which includes assistance identifying other employment opportunities and outplacement services such as resume writing and interview preparation.

Most affected stores will begin the liquidation process on April 17.

The pending closures were first announced on Feb. 24, but the list of impacted stores wasn't released until Friday.

“We understand that closing stores will impact the lives of many hard working associates, which is why we have decided to initiate a voluntary early retirement program for approximately 6,000 eligible associates. By coordinating the timing of these two events, we can expect to see a net increase in hiring as the number of full-time associates expected to take advantage of the early retirement incentive will far exceed the number of full-time positions affected by the store closures,” said Marvin R. Ellison, JCP chairman and chief executive officer in a Feb. 24 news release, which also stated that in 2016 JCP had delivered a net profit for the first time since 2010.

The company says total store closures represent 13 - 14 percent of the JCP's store portfolio, and less than 5 percent of total annual sales. The stores identified for closure either require significant capital to achieve JCP's new brand standard or are minimally cash flow positive today relative to the company’s overall consolidated average.

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