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US department store JC Penney files for bankruptcy

A JC Penney store in CaliforniaImage copyright
Reuters

Image caption

The company filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy on Friday

American department store JC Penney has filed for bankruptcy becoming the latest company to be hit by Covid-19.

The 118-year-old store sells clothing, cosmetics and jewellery at over 850 locations across the country. It employs more than 80,000 people.

It filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Friday allowing it to restructure even though it can no longer pay its debts.

JC Penney’s announcement comes after J Crew filed for bankruptcy last month.

There had been rumours of an impending bankruptcy after JC Penney missed interest payments in April.

A statement from the company said it has $500m (£400m) in cash and has received financing commitments of $900m from lenders.

It said some stores would close as a result.

“The coronavirus pandemic has created unprecedented challenges for our families, our loved ones, our communities, and our country,” chief executive officer Jill Soltau said in a statement.

JC Penney was founded in Wyoming by James Cash Penney in 1902. His belief was that prices should be low, set and marked – a move away from the haggling that was commonplace at the time.

Image copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

JC Penney survived the great depression and grew during the 20th Century

It survived the Great Depression and grew during the 20th Century. But with the introduction of online shopping the company began to struggle.

It has closed hundreds of stores and thousands of jobs in recent years.

Last year it reported sales of $10.7bn, a decrease of more than $7bn in 10 years.

‘Dreading this for years’

Many people have shared their memories of the store on social media.

Jade Jurek wrote on Twitter: “Be honest – JC Penney was already in trouble. That being said, I have been a big fan because I actually bought my wedding dress from the store in 1987.”

Former employees and their relatives have also shared their memories of the store.

Jennifer Grimes wrote on the company’s Facebook page: “Love you guys. You were my high school and college job. I just placed a huge towel and sheets order this week and then heard of the bankruptcy today. Please do all you can to stay in business. I’m so sorry how e-commerce has hurt you.”

David Thomas said: “Personally sad for me and have been dreading this for years. My dad was a JCP store manager, retired in the late 90s, and this was a wonderful profession for him. Those were good times and I am sad for those who have lost jobs with this news.”

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