Mike Ullman

J.C. Penney Aims To Be King Of The Mall As Macy's, Sears Retreat

J.C. Penney Co. is in a surprising position more than four years after it was almost run aground by a former chief executive officer: It could be the last department store standing at your local mall.

As rivals retrench, J.C. Penney is adding new merchandise, exclusive partnerships and services to draw shoppers to its more than 1,000 stores. Sears has closed stores amid $9 billion in losses in recent years and Macy's said this month it would shutter 100 in as-yet unidentified locations -- an act likely to leave J.C. Penney as the main anchor in some malls.

"When I joined the company, my first thought was, 'Man, we've got a lot of stores to close,' " Marvin Ellison,...