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Thursday, 04 June 2020 20:26

Rockingham J.C. Penney one of 5 N.C. stores to close

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The Rockingham J.C. Penney store is one of five being closed in North Carolina after the company filed for bankruptcy. The Rockingham J.C. Penney store is one of five being closed in North Carolina after the company filed for bankruptcy. Russell Parker - Richmond Observer

ROCKINGHAM — Richmond Plaza will soon be losing a large tenant.

J.C. Penney announced Thursday the Rockingham location would be one of the 154 stores closing as part of a “store optimization strategy” after filing for bankruptcy protection last month, according to Market Watch.


The closings will begin after a June 11 bankruptcy hearing, the retailer announced in a press release.

“While closing stores is always an extremely difficult decision, our store optimization strategy is vital to ensuring we emerge from both Chapter 11 and the COVID-19 pandemic as a stronger retailer with greater financial flexibility to allow us to continue serving our loyal customers for decades to come,” said Jill Soltau, chief executive officer of J.C. Penney, said in a statement. “I am incredibly grateful to our talented associates for their ongoing dedication and their passion for meeting and exceeding our customers’ expectations during this difficult and uncertain time. All impacted associates will be treated with the utmost consideration and respect.”

Sales for the first round of store closures are expected to take 10-16 weeks to complete, according the press release.

J.C. Penney is closing stores in 38 states. Other North Carolina stores closing are in New Bern, Henderson, Lumberton and Raleigh. There are also six stores closing in South Carolina, including those in Myrtle Beach and Florence.

“We will remain one of the nation’s largest apparel and home retailers as we continue to operate a majority of our stores and our flagship store, jcp.com, to ensure our valued customers continue to have access to the products and brands they need and want,”Soltau added. “As of June 4, 2020, we have reopened nearly 500 stores since government officials have eased COVID-19 restrictions and we look forward to opening more. We are excited to welcome back our customers and associates at these locations, and we will continue to take actions to be best positioned to build on our over 100-year history.”

Neil Robinette, CEO of C.F. Smith Property Group, which owns the shopping center, said it was disappointing.

“This pandemic expedited what was a slow death,” he said.

C.F. Smith had secured a tenant to take its place last year, but J.C. Penney officials renewed the lease, according to Robinette.

Now, because of restrictions put in place by the governor in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, finding another business to fill the void, is even tougher.

“There are not a lot of tenants looking for retail space in the current environment,” he said.

The plaza underwent a $3 million renovation in late 2015 and 2016 and brought in several new retailers and revamping the storefronts.

“A lot of the tenants have been hit hard during the pandemic,” Robinette said, adding that his company has been working with and trying to support them. He added that he has been encouraged in the traffic he’s seen lately as restrictions are slowly lifted and stores are opening back up with occupancy limitations.

Verizon has moved to its new location in the plaza, he said, however there are no opening dates yet for Aspen Dental and Firehouse subs, which will share the same building in front of the shopping center, nor for Planet Fitness, which was announced in November.

However, Robinette said those three are tracking to open this summer.

 

Last modified on Thursday, 04 June 2020 20:55
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