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Wilmington Branch of JC Penney Safe From Closure For Now – Bankruptcy Rumors Abound


JC Penney store in Wilmington, NC

JC Penney in Wilmington remains opens during cutbacks

Image Source: Flickr User Sam Howzit

Today, JC Penney released a list of more than 130 stores that will be shuttered in the wake of more financial trouble for the retail chain that once again has bankruptcy rumors surrounding it. The good news is, the Wilmington branch of JC Penney at Independence Mall seems shielded from the cutbacks for now, but there is some doubt.

Lease and Loan Trouble at Wilmington JC Penney

In 2016, JC Penney re-signed its lease at Independence Mall for another five years, but there is a sizable loan, for more than $100 million, outstanding on the retail location. The loan has been in default since 2014, yet a new lease was signed last year. Loan issuer JP Morgan planned to foreclose on the Wilmington location, which would have shut it down.

However, the sale of Independence Mall to Rouse Properties has shut down the foreclosure for now because JC Penney is an anchor of the mall and could affect the sale and the fate of the mall. For now, Wilmington’s JC Penney will remain open, but unless they catch up on their loan payments, it seems a long shot it will remain open. But, for now, JC Penney stays in Wilmington.

North Carolina Losing Other JC Penney Locations

The official number of store closures announced by JC Penney was 138 and several of these are in our state, just not in Wilmington. The JC Penneys at Albemarle Crossing, Boone Mall, Eastridge Mall, Blue Ridge Mall, Monroe Crossing, and Becker Village Mall will all shut their doors.

There is no firm date on when these North Carolina locations will roll up their carpets but stores are putting their inventories on liquidation sale starting on April 17. That might be time to hit these locations to pick up some bargains before they’re gone for good. When all is said and done, there will be roughly 900 JC Penney locations left in the US.

JC Penney Justifies Store Closures

Last month, JC Penney CEO and Chairman Marvin R. Ellison said, “We believe we must take aggressive action to better align our retail operations for sustainable growth. Therefore, our decision to close stores will allow us to raise the overall brand standard of the Company and allocate capital more efficiently. We believe closing stores will also allow us to adjust our business to effectively compete against the growing threat of online retailers”

Ellison also added, “We understand that closing stores will impact the lives of many hard working associates, which is why we have decided to initiate a voluntary early retirement program for approximately 6,000 eligible associates.” Interestingly, the JC Penney press release that announced the store closures was titled “Plan to Optimize Retail Operations.” There is no word on how many JC Penney employees will be impacted in North Carolina.

Bankruptcy on Hold for Now

Although many experts in business finance predicted JC Penney needed to file bankruptcy to stay afloat and viable, so far the 115-year-old retail chain has held back from Chapter 11 bankruptcy to reorganize debt and continues to pursue other avenues. Penneys has expanded online offerings to compete with Amazon, started selling appliances again to compete with Sears and shored up marketing efforts.

For a company whose stock was valued by some at as low as $1 just four years ago, JC Penneys has come a long way, but will its efforts be enough? For now, many retail workers in North Carolina will be searching for jobs but the Wilmington workers of JC Penney remain protected – at least for now – from Penneys cuts into its retail operations.

If you’re a Wilmington local impacted by unemployment or downsized like many JC Penney associates will soon be, you no doubt hit a bump in your financial plans for your future. Job loss can be devastating to your savings, credit score, and financial future. If you’re drowning in debt because of past unemployment, underemployment, or other roadblock, why not consider the debt relief offered by bankruptcy? Our bankruptcy attorneys in North Carolina can help.

Contact the Law Offices of John T. Orcutt for a free Wilmington bankruptcy consultation today. Call +1-919-646-2654 now for an appointment at one of our convenient locations in Raleigh, Durham, Fayetteville, Wilson, Greensboro, Garner or Wilmington – including our new location in historic Wilmington. Don’t let debt drag down your future, come see us today for solutions.


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