Store Closures Hit J.C. Penney Net as Sales Improve

The retailer trumpeted an "improved performance in our total apparel business."

Impacted by store closings, J.C. Penney Co. Inc. increased its net loss for the second quarter, but total sales increased.

The retailer also said it strengthened its balance sheet through early retirement of debt and that inventory was lowered.

The net loss in the quarter ended July 29 was $62 million, or 20 cents a share, versus $56 million, or 18 cents a share, in the year ago quarter.

The adjusted net loss was $28 million versus $10 million a year ago.

Total sales increased 1.5 percent to $3 billion compared to $2.9 billion in the year-ago period, while comparable sales declined 1.3 percent.

“We are pleased to deliver a top line sales increase of 1.5 percent and quarterly sequential improvement of 220 basis points in our comp sales performance in go-forward stores,” said Marvin Ellison, chairman and chief executive officer. “While broader retail remains challenged., we are encouraged by the improved performance in our total apparel business including a significant acceleration in kids apparel. Nearly all categories delivered improved sales results during the quarter with our growth initiatives in beauty, home refresh and omnichannel continuing to deliver positive sales growth.”

Ellison added that liquidating inventory in the 127 stores being closed had a negative impact on gross margin and earnings per share. “Those events were isolated to the second quarter,” he said.

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