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Wausau Center Mall already working to fill JCPenney space

UNDATED (WSAU-Wheeler News)  J-C Penney will close five stores in Wisconsin, and 33 nationwide, to try and turn its struggling department store chain around. The company said yesterday that stores in Wausau, Rhinelander, Rice Lake, Janesville, and Fond du Lac will close by early May.

255 jobs will be eliminated from those stores, which Penney calls "under-performing."

Wisconsin will continue to have 18 other Penney stores statewide.

Company spokesman Joey Thomas says there are no plans to close any of those -- although the firm says it continually reviews its store base. Wisconsin has the most stores on the national closure list.

The Wausau and Janesville stores will cut 70 jobs each, Fond du Lac 50, Rice Lake 40, and Rhinelander 25. Remaining inventories will be sold over the next few months at each location.

It's the latest effort to the stop the financial bleeding at J-C Penney. The Plano Texas chain lost $1.4-billion in the first nine months of its latest fiscal year, after losing $985-million in fiscal 2012.

C-B-L, which owns malls in Wausau and Janesville, says it already has redevelopment plans to fill the store space. C-B-L says a number of retailers have expressed an interest in moving in.