PLANO, Tex. — J.C. Penney wants to be the top moderate department store chain in the nation, but it won’t be easy getting there.

The $32.3 billion retailer, which saw comp-store sales inch up 2.6 percent in 2002, outlined to equity analysts here at Penney’s headquarters Monday and Tuesday its strategies for dominating the midtier market — among them, maximizing synergies among Penney’s store, catalog and Internet operations; fine-tuning centralization; playing up trends more forcibly, and making stores more vibrant and compelling.

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