Store opened in 1966
From Out of the Morgue, by Veronica Coons, Great Bend Tribune:
JC Penney arrives
A photo of two workers removing part of the signage for the Wiley’s department store made the paper the week of Sept. 14, 1966. The once-popular shop was closing this week, and in its stead, J.C. Penney would reopen the store at Broadway and Kansas. The store, which would undergo “extensive” remodeling, was scheduled to open that fall. Fifty years later, it continues to serve the clothing and household needs of Great Bend and surrounding communities.
The J.C. Penney store at 1500 Kansas Ave. in Great Bend is on the list of 138 stores that J.C. Penney Company Inc. will close in the coming months.
The list of stores was announced Friday morning. Three other Kansas stores are on the list: one in the Hutchinson Mall, a freestanding store in Lawrence, a store on the Chanute Square and one in the Winfield Plaza.
On Feb. 24, the company based in Plano, Texas, first announced plans to close two distribution facilities and approximately 130-140 stores over the next few months. A news release stated J.C. Penney “is implementing a plan to optimize its national retail operations as part of the company’s successful return to profitability."
“These strategic decisions will help align the Company’s brick-and-mortar presence with its omnichannel network, thereby redirecting capital resources to invest in locations and initiatives that offer the greatest revenue potential.”
Marvin R. Ellison, chairman and chief executive officer of J.C. Penney, stated:
“In 2016, we achieved our $1 billion EBITDA target and delivered a net profit for the first time since 2010; however, we believe we must take aggressive action to better align our retail operations for sustainable growth. During the year, it became evident the stores that could fully execute the Company’s growth initiatives of beauty, home refresh and special sizes generated significantly higher sales, and a more vibrant in-store shopping environment. We believe the relevance of our brick and mortar portfolio will be driven by the implementation of these initiatives consistently to a larger percent of our stores. Therefore, our decision to close stores will allow us to raise the overall brand standard of the Company and allocate capital more efficiently.
“We understand that closing stores will impact the lives of many hard working associates, which is why we have decided to initiate a voluntary early retirement program for approximately 6,000 eligible associates. By coordinating the timing of these two events, we can expect to see a net increase in hiring as the number of full-time associates expected to take advantage of the early retirement incentive will far exceed the number of full-time positions affected by the store closures,” added Ellison.
Associates who will be impacted by the store and distribution center closures will receive separation benefits, which includes assistance identifying other employment opportunities and outplacement services such as resume writing and interview preparation.