J.C. Penney makes its cuts; Benton Township location not among them

By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium

BENTON TOWNSHIP — Among the stores across the country J.C. Penney expected to close this year, its Benton Township location is not among them.

J.C. Penney released its list of 138 stores that will close nationwide Friday morning. The move is expected to affect 5,000 employees.

Seven Michigan stores are included in the list of locations expected to shutter, with the closest stores to Southwest Michigan being in Battle Creek and Holland.

“J.C. Penney is in the process of identifying relocation opportunities within the company for esteemed leaders,” a news release from J.C. Penney’s corporate office read. “Additionally, J.C. Penney will provide outplacement support services for those eligible associates who will be leaving the company.”

J.C. Penney reported in the news release that most closures are expected to occur in June of this year, and most liquidation sales will begin April 17.

The seven stores set to close in Michigan include:

• Lakeview Square Mall, Battle Creek

• Delta Plaza, Escanaba

• Westshore Mall, Holland

• Copper Country Mall, Houghton

• Birchwood Mall, Kingsford

• Midland Mall, Midland

• Cascade Crossings, Sault Ste. Marie

Friday’s news comes less than a month after the retail chain announced it would close 130-140 sites to “align the company’s physical store footprint and omni-channel network.”

In February, J.C. Penney reported the stores closing represent between 13 and 14 percent of the company’s portfolio and less than 5 percent of its sales.

“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,” Marvin Ellison, company CEO, said in the release. “Therefore, our decision to close stores will allow us to raise the overall brand standard of the company and allocate capital more efficiently.”

The news that the J.C. Penney in Benton Township will remain open comes at a time when the mall it’s attached to, The Orchards Mall, needs it most.

The 528,347-square-foot mall at 1800 Pipestone Road is anchored by J.C. Penney and Carson’s.

Not out of the woods

While the Benton Township store made it through this round of cuts, the 100-plus stores that J.C. Penney is closing this year may not be its last.

Two weeks after telling investors that the chain will close as many as 140 locations this year, two Wall Street analysts told CNBC that more closures may be ahead.

At a meeting with analysts in New York City last Thursday, J.C. Penney’s management said it is testing in its smaller stores some of the initiatives that have been powering its sales in larger locations. According to the CNBC report last week, those tests include a smaller version of its Sephora beauty shop and home appliances.

If the tests are successful, J.C. Penney could keep more stores open. Otherwise, it may lead to additional closings.

Contact Tony Wittkowski at twittkowski@TheHP.com or (269) 932-0358. Follow him on Twitter: @tonywittkowski.

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on March 18, 2017)

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