NOT NOW: A spokesman for Seibu Department Stores termed as "speculation by the press" reports that the 21-store chain is planning to close four stores beginning in August and reduce its full-time employees by 250 to 3,150. The spokesman noted, however, that the company earlier decided on a new management plan to reduce its full-time employees by 1,000, to 2,400 from 3,400, by 2007, while increasing the number of part-timers by 700, to 3,600 from 2,900 at present.

According to reports in Tokyo, Seibu plans to close stores in Kawasaki, west of Tokyo, Hakodate on the northern island of Hokkaido, Sendai in the northeast of Tokyo, and Toyohashi near Nagoya. Seibu is in the process of restructuring after its creditor banks agreed to forsake approximately $1.9 billion in loans.

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