J.C. Penney will not close any New Jersey stores

The J.C. Penney Co. Inc. will not close any of its New Jersey department stores as it seeks to restructure after a fourth quarter net loss of 8 cents per share and to save $530 million.

Several weeks ago, the J.C. Penney Co. Inc., Plano, Texas, announced plans to close 40 to 45 department stores and about 300 Eckerd drug stores nationwide.

Several Eckerd drug stores in the Mon-mouth-Middlesex region were identified as those that will close.

On March 21, a public relations spokeswoman informed Greater Media News-papers, which publishes the Examiner, that no J.C. Penney stores in the Garden State will be closed.

Loree W. Sowell confirmed that there are no planned closings for New Jersey stores at this time.

The company released a list of the 40 department stores to be closed, including stores in Glasgow and Miles City, Mon-tana, that opened in 1927 and 1933, respectively. The most closings will occur in California, with seven stores slated to go out of business. Three stores in Illinois will be closed. Also, two stores each in Connecticut, Georgia, Louisiana, Mich-igan, Nevada, Ohio and Virginia; and one store each in Arizona, Florida, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin.

At the time of the initial announcement, James E. Oesterreicher, chairman and CEO, said in a news release, "Improving the profitability of our core department and drug store businesses is our top priority and has caused us to take a hard look at department stores and drug stores that are underperforming and lack future strategic fit."

There are three J.C. Penney stores in the region — Freehold Raceway Mall, Free-hold Township; Brunswick Square Mall, East Brunswick; and Monmouth Mall, Eatontown.

Martin Zaminsky, the store manager at J.C. Penney, Freehold Raceway Mall, said, "As far as I know, none of the stores in this market area are closing. It is very positive for this area. The stores in this market do extraordinarily well, probably one of the strongest markets in the country."

Richard Ackerman, the store manager at J.C. Penney, Brunswick Square Mall, said he could not comment about the New Jersey stores remaining open.

The Eckerd chain merged with J.C. Penney in 1996. The chain began in 1898 when J. Milton Eckerd used $600 to open his first cut-rate drug store in Erie, Pa. The store promised low prices and a high level of service which not only drew customers but was also the cause for expansion into other areas of the country with a total of more than 2,800 drug stores.

Historically, Eckerd initiated senior citizen discounts in the 1950s and two-for-one photo processing.