Penney to shut 40 stores, cut 2,250 jobs

J.C. Penney said it will close about 40 stores this year and cut some 2,250 jobs as it tries to improve profitability.

Most of the stores, in malls nationwide, will close by April 4. The Plano-based company now runs about 1,060 stores.

The closures will affect 19 states, including five stores in Pennsylvania and four in North Carolina. The only Texas store slated for closure is in the Market Square Mall in Brenham.

Thursday’s announcement comes two days after J.C. Penney reported a rise in sales during the crucial holiday shopping season, an encouraging sign as the company tries to recover from a botched plan to reinvent itself under former CEO Ron Johnson.

It has tapped a new CEO, former Home Depot executive Marvin Ellison, who will replace current CEO Mike Ullman in August. Ullman was rehired in April 2013 after retiring from the top job in 2011.

J.C. Penney said all employees at stores being closed will be offered career-training classes, including help writing résumés and filling out applications. The company said some are eligible for separation benefits.

Last January, the company announced plans to close about 33 stores and cut some 2,000 jobs.

Shares in J.C. Penney (ticker: JCP) rose 6 cents to $7.95. They are up about 7.5 percent from a year ago.