The Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection filing by department store chain J.C. Penney Co. late Friday in Texas could have a big impact on area malls in the region.
J.C. Penney has locations at the Dayton Mall, Mall at Fairfield Commons and the Miami Valley Centre Mall. Those stores have already gone through closures of Sears and Elder-Beerman locations, leaving only a Macy’s store as the lone large retailer.
In court filings, J.C. Penney said it has been unable to make payments on its $8 billion of debt since the start of the coronavirus pandemic and is seeking to restructure its debt load while implementing closures at targeted stores in several phases.
All J.C. Penney locations remain closed in this region. The company has not released which stores will reopen.
The retail giant, which has struggled in recent years, said in a statement announcing its bankruptcy filing that out-of-court reorganization efforts had been gaining steam but that the COVID-19 pandemic torpedoed any progress the company had made.
“Until this pandemic struck, we had made significant progress rebuilding our company under our Plan for Renewal strategy - and our efforts had already begun to pay off,” J.C. Penney CEO Jill Soltau said in the statement. “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.”
J.C. Penney comes into court with a plan in hand to wipe away several billion dollars of debt, including a restructuring support agreement with holders of about 70% of its first-lien debt, according to the statement.
Founded in 1902 by James Cash Penney, the company opened its first store in Kemmerer, Wyoming, under the name The Golden Rule. According to the company, it generated more than $10 billion in net sales in 2019, down more than 8% from the previous year.
Some of the area malls have had been able to replace space left by the closing of the big box stores.
Dayton-based Morris Furniture Co. Inc. will open a showroom that will occupy about 50,000 square feet near the former Elder Beerman site at the Dayton Mall. At Fairfield Commons, a Morris store will open in the upper level of the former Sears.
Round1 Entertainment opened in November in the Mall at Fairfield Commons in the bottom portion of the former Sears store.
The Sears store at the Dayton Mall remains vacant.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
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