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JCPenney to close 130-140 stores, plus Lakeland distribution center

This Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2017, photo shows a sale sign in a JCPenney store in Pittsburgh. The store announced on Friday, Feb. 24, 2017, that it was closing 130-140 stores, including a Lakeland distribution center. [Associated Press]
This Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2017, photo shows a sale sign in a JCPenney store in Pittsburgh. The store announced on Friday, Feb. 24, 2017, that it was closing 130-140 stores, including a Lakeland distribution center. [Associated Press]
Published Feb. 24, 2017

Long-struggling JCPenney announced Friday morning it is closing 130 to 140 stores nationwide in the next few months, in addition to shuttering its distribution center in Lakeland.

In a statement posted on the company's website, chairman and CEO Marvin R. Ellison said the decision was made, in part, to "adjust our business to effectively compete against the growing threat of online retailers."

The closures represent about 13 to 14 percent of the company's lower-producing stores. The list of stores will be released in mid-March, according to a statement.

Officials said its distribution center in Lakeland will close in early June and operations transferred to Atlanta "as part of a strategic effort to streamline store support services."

JCPenney has struggled, like most other brick and mortar department stores, in recent years in trying to keep up with online shopping and more nimble retail competitors. Macy's recently announced it would close 100 stores in the next year. Sears has been selling and leasing its department store space to new tenants. At Westfield Countryside in Clearwater, Whole Foods Market leases half of the Sears department store space. The Sears store at Tyrone Square Mall has closed to make room for new development, including a Dick's Sporting Goods store and Lucky's Market.

JCPenney also is of selling a supply chain facility in Buena Park, Calif.

"Maintaining a large store base gives us a competitive advantage in the evolving retail landscape since our physical stores are a destination for personalized beauty offerings, a broad array of special sizes, affordable private brands and quality home goods and services," Ellison said. "It is essential to retain those locations that present the best expression of the JCPenney brand and function as a seamless extension of the omnichannel experience through online order fulfillment, same-day pick up, exchanges and returns."

The moves are expected to save the company about $200 million this year, JCPenney indicated.

The company reported net sales of $12.5 billion compared to $12.6 billion in 2015. Comparable store sales were flat for the year.

Times staff writer Justine Griffin contributed to this report.