J.C. Penney store in Norfolk among 33 nationwide to close

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Associated Press and 13News Now

Posted on January 17, 2014 at 10:22 AM

Updated Friday, Jan 17 at 11:26 AM

NEW YORK (AP)-The J.C. Penney store at Norfolk's Military Circle is among the 33 stores nationwide set to close - sometime in May.

The struggling department store operator announced it will cut 2,000 jobs and close 33 stores as it tries to get back on the path to profitability.

This will be the second big retailer to leave the mall - Sears closed in 2012.

Norfolk city officials say the store is on private property and so there's nothing they are going to do to save it. 

"Our hope is the proposed redevelopment of Lake Wright will encourage activity among the private owners in the Military Circle area," city spokesperson Lori Crouch said. 

The news raises concerns that Penney's holiday season sales were not what the company hoped for and that the chain needs to do even more to recover from a turnaround plan that has had disastrous results.

J.C. Penney Co., based in Plano, Texas, said earlier this month said it was pleased with its holiday results but declined to give sales figures, raising worries among Wall Street analysts about how the season actually fared.

"It was a season where they realized that they had to do more to reconnect with the customers they've lost," said Brian Sozzi, CEO and chief equities strategist at Belus Capital Advisors.

The cuts announced Wednesday should save more than $65 million annually. The company will take $26 million in pretax charges in the third quarter and $17 million in future quarters. Penney has 116,000 staffers and operates more than 1,100 stores. All the job cuts are related to the store closings.

Penney is expected to be among a number of stores that will be announcing it will be cutting staff and closing stores in the next few weeks. After the holiday season, stores typically re-evaluate their store fleet and announce job cuts and store closings. But analysts believe that after a tough holiday season where stores had to discount early and often to get shoppers to buy in a tough economy, the cuts will be deeper than normal, says John Challenger, CEO of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, a global outplacement firm. Stores are also contending with a shift in consumer spending to PCs and mobile devices.

Macy's Inc., a standout among its peers, announced last week that it was cutting 2,500 jobs as part of a reorganization to sustain its profitability.

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