Penney’s will not close N.J. stores

EAST BRUNSWICK — 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 Monmouth-Middlesex region were identified as those that will close.

On Tuesday, a public relations spokeswoman informed Greater Media Newspapers, which publishes the Sentinel, 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.

At the time of the initial announcement, James E. Oesterreicher, chairman and chief executive officer, 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, Freehold 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 chain of Eckerd drug stores 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.

The Eckerd chain merged with J.C. Penney in 1996.

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