*J.C. Penney to Close Up to 50 Stores

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J.C. Penney announced yesterday that it will close as many as 50 department stores nationwide.

The move comes four months after Allen Questrom was named J.C. Penney's new chairman. Some industry experts say the move is an attempt to revive the ailing retailer who has lost customers to major rival Sears Roebuck and to low-price chains such as Kohl's, Target and Old Navy.

The last big round of closings - 45 department stores and 279 Eckerd drugstores - was announced 11 months ago under former Chairman James Oesterreicher, who resigned May 2000.

No information was released on whether the closings would affect the J.C. Penney big book catalog.

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