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Before the pandemic hit retail, executives said J.C. Penney was making progress in its turnaround efforts. However, analysts had long noted that because of Penney's enormous debt load, the road to reinvention was going to be an uphill battle.
Along with executive shuffling and a troubled sector, the 118-year-old department store has also struggled to align its merchandising mix with what its customers want. In early 2019, Penney announced it would pull appliances and furniture from its stores after then-CEO Marvin Ellison brought those products back in 2016. Today the company is once again focused mainly on apparel — a sector already struggling prior to the pandemic and has faced heightened challenges in recent months.
J.C. Penney filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in May and has since gone through slow, grinding sale talks to keep the retailer alive. Landlords Simon Property Group and Brookfield Asset Management last week won court approval to buy the department store's operations out of bankruptcy. But even as the deal enters its final stages, J.C. Penney's struggles are far from over.
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- Ch. 11 is J.C. Penney's best shot at a turnaround, but it's not a sure one
- Will J.C. Penney's turnaround ever end?
- 6 numbers that explain the fate of department stores
- Retail fails: 6 of the biggest blunders from industry history