Kohl’s to announce store closings next month

Kohl’s Corp. has announced it will close 18 under-performing stores this year, consolidating more than 1,100 stores nationwide in the wake of lackluster sales and earnings.

The Wisconsin-based retailer said it will release a list of the stores it plans to shut down by the end of March. It’s unknown how many of the more than 50 stores in Ohio might be closed.

Kohl’s announced the store closings — representing less than 1 percent of total sales — earlier this week when it reported financial results for the fourth quarter, including the critical holiday shopping season.

“I am particularly encouraged by the 4 percent increase we saw between Thanksgiving and Christmas,” Kohl’s CEO Kevin Mansell said in a press release. “This strength, however, was substantially offset by softness in early November and in January when demand for cold-weather goods was especially low.”

Overall, Kohl’s posted earnings of $296 million in the final three months of 2015, down 20 percent compared to the same three-month period a year ago. Total sales edged up 0.8 percent to $6.39 billion.

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Kohl’s executives told analysts that they will continue to focus on cost-cutting and the company’s “Greatness Agenda” — a multi-channel approach that includes optimizing the retailer’s fast-growing online business while continuing to grow sales at bricks-and-mortar stores.

The announced store closings will result in annual savings of about $45 million, according to the company, and free up cash to invest in new initiatives.

Kohl’s plans to test seven new, smaller-format stores in different areas around the country, add two new Off-Aisle pilot stores in Wisconsin and open 12 Fila sports-wear clothing outlets, which will mark the retailer’s first entry into the outlet space, the company said.

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