Alabaster JCPenney not among stores to be closed

ALABASTER – The Alabaster JCPenney store avoided the first round of closures as its parent company attempts to emerge from bankruptcy.

The local store opened the week of June 1, and shoppers and Alabaster officials hope it will remain open as JCPenney tries to find financial footing.

“We’ve seen JCPenney close stores several times,” Alabaster Mayor Marty Handlon said. “We’ve been very fortunate (to keep the local store), and I don’t know if it’s because there aren’t as many other options in this area as there are other places.”

JCPenney announced that following an evaluation of its retail footprint, store performance and future market for the company, it had identified 154 stores for closures.

The closures included four in Alabama: Covington Mall in Andalusia, Regency Square in Florence, Jackson Square in Scottsboro and Spanish Fort Town Center in Spanish Fort.

The closings will begin following an entry of an order at the June 11 hearing with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas in Corpus Christi.

JCPenney announced on May 15 that it had entered into a restructuring support agreement with lenders holding about 70 percent of JCPenney’s first lien debt to reduce the company’s outstanding indebtedness and strengthen its financial position.

To implement the financial restructuring plan, the company filed voluntary petitions for reorganization under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.

JCPenney’s strategy is to reduce its store footprint and focus resources on its strongest stores and 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, chief executive officer 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.

“We will remain one of the nation’s largest apparel and home retailers as we continue to operate a majority of our stores and our flagship store, jcp.com, to ensure our valued customers continue to have access to the products and brands they need and want. As of June 4, 2020, we have reopened nearly 500 stores since government officials have eased COVID-19 restrictions and we look forward to opening more. We are excited to welcome back our customers and associates at these locations, and we will continue to take actions to be best positioned to build on our over 100-year history.”