However, the company did turn a profit in 2016 for the first time since 2010 - notably due to "record" online sales, said Ellison.
A company statement said it will begin a voluntary retirement program for about 6,000 eligible employees. "Comparable sales performance for the closing stores was significantly below the remaining store base and these stores operate at a much higher expense rate given the lack of productivity". Macy's and Sears announced months ago that they will be closing dozens of stores as well. Two distribution facilities will also close.
J.C. Penney, which operates about 1,000 stores, plans to release a full list of planned closures in mid-March, with almost all of the stores expected to close in the second quarter of 2017.
Chairman and CEO Marvin R. Ellison said J.C. Penney is taking "aggressive action to better align our retail operations for sustainable growth".
The company said the closings are part of a strategic move to more effectively compete against the growing threat of online retailers.
The company hasn't announced which stores will be closing, but as more and more people turn to the internet for their shopping needs. Accordingly, the company sees opportunity to shut down two distribution facilities apart from 130 - 140 stores in the next few months.
Although J.C. Penney exceeded earnings expectations, at 64 cents a share as opposed to the expected 61 cents a share, same-store sales and revenue were lower than expected.
There are three Penneys in the Rochester area, including at Eastview, Greece Ridge and Marketplace malls, which are all owned by the Wilmorite corporation.
Chief financial officer Edward Record said those stores account for less than 5% of J.C. Penney's total sales. Almost all of the closures are expected to occur in the second quarter of 2017.
Net sales of $3.961 billion, down 0.9% from $3.996 billion during the same time past year. The locations will be used more in the onmichannel experience, allowing customer to complete online order fulfillment, same-day pick up, exchanges, and returned, Ellison notes.
"We'll definitely do everything we can to make that happen", Block said.