J.C. Penney Co. suffered a net loss of $128 million in its third quarter, amid store closings, higher cost of goods, and clearing out slow selling merchandise.

The decline was deeper than a year ago when the company reported a net loss of $67 million.

Total sales decreased 1.8 percent to $2.8 billion in the quarter from $2.86 billion in the year ago period, primarily as a result of the 139 store closings this year through the of the third quarter.

Comparable sales gained 1.7 percent last quarter.

“During the quarter we took aggressive actions to clear slow-moving inventory, primarily allowing for an improved apparel assortment heading into the holiday season,” said Marvin Ellison, chairman and chief executive officer. “While these actions had a negative short-term impact on profitability in the third quarter, we firmly,believe it was the right decision for the company as we transition into the fourth quarter and fiscal 2018. we are encouraged that we delivered positive sales comps for the third quarter. Our growth strategies and new apparel initiatives led to sequential comp sales improvement in nearly all merchandise categories in the third quarter giving us confidence that our overall strategy and transformation is beginning to take hold.”

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