J.C. Penney will begin going-out-of-business sales at certain stores within weeks, an attorney for the company said Thursday at a court hearing.
The chain is poised to close 242 stores permanently through its Chapter 11 bankruptcy restructuring plan, leaving it with about 600 remaining locations.
Complicating the plan is the coronavirus pandemic, which forced all of the retailer's department stores to close temporarily. Some of those locations have reopened with social distancing restrictions in place.
The company's lawyers expect to identify the locations that will be permanently shuttered in a court filing June 4. Bankruptcy Judge David Jones is expected to hold a hearing about the proposed closures on June 11.
Assuming Jones signs off at that point, liquidation sales at the permanently closing locations that have opened their doors following temporary closures would begin immediately, J.C. Penney attorney Joshua Sussberg said.
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230 store closings planned:
Facing excessive debt, years of declining sales and the pandemic closures, J.C. Penney filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on May 15.
The company is hoping to shed debt and split into two entities: an operating business and a real estate investment trust. If that plan doesn't work, the company may agree to sell itself. Although the retailer hopes to stay in business, liquidation of the entire chain remains a possibility.
To boost its finances in the short term, J.C. Penney last week asked all of its landlords to not charge rent for June, July and August while the company tries to get back on its feet, Sussberg said.
Judge David Jones, who has urged J.C. Penney to move swiftly in a bid to preserve as many jobs as possible, said Thursday that he was "really comforted by the different" efforts the company is making.
J.C. Penney reopens more stores
Currently, about a third of its stores, or 304 locations, have reopened and nearly 500 are expected to reopen by June 3, said Jim DePaul, the company’s executive vice president of stores, in a statement on Thursday.
That includes 150 in 27 states that reopened Thursday after temporary closures due to the pandemic. Five stores also are open only for curbside pickup.
“To do this, we’re operating differently and taking a strategic and consistent approach, keeping associate and customer safety as our top priority,” DePaul said.
Sussberg said the company hopes to have all of its remaining stores fully open by August.
Earlier this week, the distressed department store chain released its new Linden Street bedding brand, which it called "a significant enhancement to its home merchandise division." The company says that offering "compelling merchandise" is part of its transformation strategy.
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: J.C. Penney store closing sales to begin within weeks: 242 permanent store closures planned in bankruptcy