Worthington JC Penney among 33 U.S. stores to close
By Julie Buntjer
Forum News Service
WORTHINGTON, Minn. — One of the longest-operating stores in Worthington’s Northland Mall announced Wednesday that it is closing.
Employees of JC Penney were notified Wednesday that the retail store is one of 33 across the U.S. targeted for closure this spring.
The announcement, made by JC Penney Co., is part of a turnaround effort to close underperforming stores across the country “to focus its resources on the company’s highest potential growth areas.”
The Worthington store is the only one in Minnesota targeted for closure.
In a news release issued Wednesday afternoon, the Plano, Texas-based company said closing the 33 stores will result in an annual cost savings of about $65 million. Remaining inventory in the affected stores will be sold over the next several months, the release stated.
The closures will result in the elimination of about 2,000 employees, with an estimated 20 employees at the Worthington JC Penney store to lose their jobs.
Eligible employees will be provided separation benefit packages by the company.
“As we continue to progress toward long-term profitable growth, it is necessary to re-examine the financial performance of our store portfolio and adjust our national footprint accordingly,” said Myron E. (Mike) Ullman III, chief executive officer of JC Penney. “While it’s always difficult to make a business decision that impacts our valued customers and associates, this important step addresses a strategic priority to improve the profitability of our stores and position JC Penney for future success.”
Management at the Worthington JC Penney declined to comment on the announcement. The Worthington Area Chamber of Commerce referred calls on the matter to Alan Oberloh, Worthington’s mayor.
Oberloh, who was notified early Wednesday afternoon of the announced closure, said employees were called in for a store meeting Wednesday morning.
“It does concern me that in a community of over 12,000 people, we have been losing retail at the rate we have,” Oberloh said. “In the early 1970s, that mall was the place to be — they always had activities in the common areas.”
Oberloh was told local employees will have an opportunity to seek positions at JC Penney stores in Spencer, Iowa, or Sioux Falls, S.D. Also, all employees will receive a free two- to three-day training on job assistance and completing a resume.