JC Penney To Close Outlet Stores, End Catalog Business

1 Of 19 Outlets Located At Fairgrounds Square Mall in Berks Co.

PLANO, Texas - J.C. Penney announced plans Monday to "wind down" its catalog business and close the company's 19 outlets across the country.

One of those outlets is located at the Fairgrounds Square Mall in Muhlenberg Township, Berks County. J.C. Penney converted the former department store at Fairgrounds to an outlet in 1999.

The company said the outlet closings will occur over the course of 2011 and 2012.

?It is always difficult to make decisions that impact our associates, and we are committed to treating them fairly," said Myron Ullman, chairman and CEO. "As we continue to position our company for the future, we determined that these steps are necessary to capitalize on the growth opportunities we see ahead while we ensure we are managing costs appropriately and continually enhancing the profitability of our operations.?

J.C. Penney spokesman Joey Thomas told 69 News the company is currently reviewing its options for the outlets that will be closing. He said those options may include selling the outlet business to another company, converting some to regular J.C. Penney stores, or closing them altogether.

Officials at the Fairgrounds Square Mall told 69 News they were unaware of J.C. Penney's decision prior to our initial phone call. They later said they had no comment on the announcement.

The Fairgrounds Square Mall expanded twice to add a pair of new anchor stores over the years, but both of those original stores have since closed.

Montgomery Ward shut its doors in 1999. Its location near center court is now occupied by the Burlington Coat Factory.

The space that once housed Phar-Mor is now home to Super Shoes and Planet Fitness.

Boscov's North has been one of the few mainstays since the Fairgrounds Square Mall opened in 1980. The store actually opened prior to the mall, which was built on the site of the former Reading Fairgrounds.

J.C. Penney will also close five of its department stores, one home store, and one of its three furniture outlets across the country.

J.C. Penney, which operates more than 1,100 department stores and employs more than 150,000 people throughout the United States and Puerto Rico, said it expects its actions will add about $25 to $30 million to its earnings in 2012.

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