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Jax Daily Record Monday, May 18, 202005:10 AM EST

J.C. Penney files for bankruptcy restructuring, will shut stores in phases

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The retailer will disclose in “coming weeks” which stores it will close; one of its three Northeast Florida stores has reopened after the pandemic.
by: Mark Basch Contributing Writer

J.C. Penney Co. Inc. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy restructuring May 15 with plans to reduce debt and also cut its footprint of 846 U.S. department stores.

The Texas-based company, which has three stores at Jacksonville area malls, said stores will be shut down in phases through the Chapter 11 process.

It said in a news release that details of store closings “will be disclosed in the coming weeks,” with no indication of how many stores or in what locations closings will occur.

Stores already were closed temporarily because of the COVID-19 pandemic. J.C. Penney reopened its store in The Avenues mall on Jacksonville’s Southside last week, but its stores at Regency Square Mall and Orange Park Mall remain closed.

J.C. Penney had 52 Florida stores operating in February but as of May 17, only five stores in the state had reopened, according to a list on the company’s website.

“The Company is gradually reopening stores and offices in a phased approach while following guidance from local and state orders,” J.C. Penney said in its news release.

J.C. Penney filed its Chapter 11 petition in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas in Corpus Christi.

“Until this pandemic struck, we had made significant progress rebuilding our company,” CEO Jill Soltau said in the news release.

“While we had been working in parallel on options to strengthen our balance sheet and extend our financial runway, the closure of our stores due to the pandemic necessitated a more fulsome review to include the elimination of outstanding debt,” she said.

Before the bankruptcy filing, J.C. Penney already had a restructuring agreement with 70% of lenders holding its first lien debt, the company said.

Soltau said the lender support “will allow us to pursue a financial restructuring on an expedited timeframe.”

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