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JCPenney Co. announced that it willl close the doors of its location at Worthington’s Northland Mall sometime this spring. (Brian Korthals/Daily Globe)

Penneys pinched: Worthington store to close; among 33 nationwide

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WORTHINGTON — One of the longest-operating stores in Worthington’s Northland Mall announced Wednesday that it is closing.

Employees of JCPenney were notified Wednesday that the retail store is one of 33 across the U.S. targeted for closure this spring.

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The announcement, made by JCPenney Co., is part of a turnaround effort to close underperforming stores across the country “in order to focus its resources on the company’s highest potential growth areas.”

The Worthington store is the only one in Minnesota targeted for closure. One store in Iowa and five stores in Wisconsin were also on the list.

In a press release issued Wednesday afternoon, the Plano, Texas-based company said closure of the 33 stores will result in an annual cost savings of approximately $65 million. Remaining inventory in the affected stores will be sold over the next several months, the release stated.

The closures will result in the elimination of approximately 2,000 employees, with an estimated 20 employees at the Worthington JCPenney store to lose their jobs.

Eligible employees will be provided separation benefit packages by the company.

“As we continue to progress toward long-term profitable growth, it is necessary to re-examine the financial performance of our store portfolio and adjust our national footprint accordingly,” said Myron “Mike” E. Ullman, III, chief executive officer of JCPenney. “While it’s always difficult to make a business decision that impacts our valued customers and associates, this important step addresses a strategic priority to improve the profitability of our stores and position JCPenney for future success.”

Management at the Worthington JCPenney declined to comment.

Worthington Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Darlene Macklin was dismayed by the news.

“We have been fortunate to have a large retailer like JCPenney in Worthington,” she said. “The closing of this store is disappointing because it has been part of our business community for many years. The Chamber of Commerce, WREDC and city will continue to promote our current retail sector and work with new retailers who may be interested in our community.”

Worthington Mayor Alan Oberloh, who was notified early Wednesday afternoon of the announced closure, said employees were called in for a store meeting Wednesday morning.

“It does concern me that in a community of over 12,000 people, we have been losing retail at the rate we have,” Oberloh said. “In the early 1970s, that mall was the place to be — they always had activities in the common areas.”

Oberloh was told local employees will have an opportunity to seek positions at JCPenney stores in Spencer, Iowa, or Sioux Falls, S.D. Also, all employees will receive a free two- to three-day training on job assistance and completing a résumé

The loss of another local retailer leaves Worthington “ripe for retail investment,” Oberloh said.

“The city of Worthington and the WREDC are at their service to help in any way possible,” he said.

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Julie Buntjer
Julie Buntjer joined the Daily Globe newsroom in December 2003, after working more than nine years for weekly newspapers. A native of Worthington and graduate of Worthington High School, then-Worthington Community College and South Dakota State University, she has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism. At the Daily Globe, Julie covers the agricultural beat, as well as Nobles County government, watersheds, community news and feature stories. In her spare time, she enjoys needlework (cross-stitch and hardanger embroidery), reading, travel, fishing and spending time with family. Find more of her stories of farm life, family and various other tidbits at www.farmbleat.areavoices.com.
(507) 376-7330
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