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JCPenney slashes expansion plans    

Plano, Texas – Adjusting capital expenditure and store growth plans due to the ongoing retail funk, JCPenney said it will cut cap ex to about $650 million in fiscal 2009 – down from $1 billion this year and $1.2 billion in 2007.

The company, which operates 1,074 department stores and an over-$1 billion e-commerce business, said it will reduce its new store/relocation count in 2009 to 20. Previously JCP had cut its five-year, 50-stores-per-year goal to 36.

The company still plans to open its Manhattan flagship store in late 2009.

Chairman and ceo Mike Ullman said the adjusted “Bridge Plan” will “effectively balance support of the merchandise and marketing initiatives that differentiate JCPenney with the goal of maintaining a strong financial position.”

Renovations are planned for 10 to 15 stores in 2009, the company said, down from 20 this year – and far below the 65-per-year pace it had in its original five-year plan.

Ullman said JCP will focus on driving down inventory – with levels expected to be below year-ago inventory by the end of this year’s back-to-school season.

Surveying 2009, Ullman said it is “a period that we expect to remain very challenging for the American consumer.”

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