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J.C. Penney to close 33 stores, eliminate 2,000 jobs

Struggling retailer J.C. Penney said Wednesday that it will close 33 stores around the country and eliminate 2,000 jobs in a bid to restore its fortunes. None of the stores are in New Hampshire, where J.C. Penney operates in Manchester, Concord, Rochester, Salem, Nashua and Newington.


Most of the stores that will close are in smaller cities, where there may be few other retail alternatives, and the loss of a J.C. Penney anchor store could be a blow to area malls. Among the cities losing a store is Salisbury, Md., and Bristol and Norfolk in Virginia.


Wednesday's announcement was the latest move by Texas-based J.C. Penney to steady its operations after several years of dismal results that helped drive the company's stock down 60 percent last year. It follows Macy's announcement last week that it would eliminate 2,500 jobs and reorganize its stores to reduce costs.


Retailers have struggled through a tough holiday shopping season, and many warned that deep discounts have hurt profits.


Ahead of the holiday season, J.C. Penney focused on beefing up its stock of in-house brands and returned to a strategy of frequent sales and discounts. But it's too early to say whether those measures succeeded. J.C. Penney has not disclosed its sales data, but it has said it was "pleased" with its holiday performance.


"As we continue to progress toward long-term profitable growth, it is necessary to reexamine the financial performance of our store portfolio and adjust our national footprint accordingly," chief executive Myron "Mike" Ullman said in a statement.


The crucial holiday shopping season is expected to be particularly tough on discount retailers. While high-end retailers such as Tiffany and Neiman Marcus have reported strong sales, discounters such as Target have lowered their profit estimates for the period.


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