A top JCPenney corporate official told local employees in a conference call this afternoon that the Carroll store would be closing as soon as August as part of the retailer’s chain-wide bankruptcy-and-restructuring plan.
Officials described a scenario with complete liquidation of inventory and departure in weeks for the Carroll store.
The Carroll JCPenney, which occupies a prime spot on Adams Street, serves as an anchor in the central business district. Local economic development leaders have worried for weeks, since JCPenney filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in May, that the retailer, with deep roots here, would abandon the city, leaving other Carroll-area businesses without JCPenney’s regional customer pull to boost spillover sales and commerce in the region.
The Carroll store is one of about 200 closing in the company’s latest move, said Jim DePaul, JCPenney’s executive vice president for stores, on the conference call, which the Times Herald reviewed.
“Unfortunately, your store is one of those stores that we will be closing,” he said.
Local store management would not comment on the reported closing, and officials with the company’s corporate offices have not returned a call for comment.
“Remaining inventory will be sold over the next 10 to 16 weeks with the final closing date expected to be sometime in September or as early as August,” DePaul told Carroll store employees.
The company is determining whether severance and unused paid-time-off reimbursements would be part of the exit package for Carroll employees under the larger bankruptcy plan.
In the call, DePaul said the company is facing unprecedented times that are forcing it to make tough decisions.
“This decision to close the store locations came after a careful analysis of store performance and future strategic fit for the company,” DePaul said. “It’s a decision we did not take lightly. I know this is difficult news to hear.”
It appears the Carroll store will be in the first wave of closures as part of a “store optimization strategy.”
In a news release issued today, JCPenney said that after “a comprehensive evaluation of its retail footprint and a careful analysis of store performance and future strategic fit for the Company, JCPenney identified the first phase of 154 store closures.”
The company expects additional phases of store closing sales will begin in the coming weeks. JCPenney officials say they intend to reduce the chain’s store footprint and focus resources on the “strongest stores” and its online 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, CEO of JCPenney. “I am incredibly grateful to our talented associates for their ongoing dedication and their passion for meeting and exceeding our customers’ expectations during this difficult and uncertain time. All impacted associates will be treated with the utmost consideration and respect.”