The last retail holdout at the former Rolling Acres Mall could be checking out.
The J.C. Penney Outlet at the former Rolling Acres mall might close this year or in 2012 as part of a corporate plan to boost profitability that was announced Monday by the national retailer.
The outlet store will be the only retailer left at the defunct mall after Sears closes by April 3.
J.C. Penney is exiting the outlet business, affecting 19 stores nationwide. The company also is closing six underperforming department and home stores outside Ohio, consolidating its call centers and reorganizing its customer decorating business, according to a news release.
The department store chain said Monday the moves are intended to boost profitability while keeping pace with customers' increasing shift to online purchases.
The outlet locations could closed, sold or converted to regular J.C. Penney stores, company
spokesman Joey Thomas said.
''We're currently reviewing options for each location,'' he said. ''The method for exiting will be determined.''
As recently as two weeks ago, a manager at the Rolling Acres store said the location has been performing ''at and above expectations'' and he anticipated another excellent year in 2011.
He referred calls on Monday to the retailer's corporate offices.
J.C. Penney has been working to close the catalog business for some time, announcing in November 2009 that it would stop publishing its twice-yearly ''big book'' catalogs.
The outlet stores carry ''a significant amount of catalog merchandise,'' according to the company.
''We see significant opportunities ahead in our core department store and online businesses as part of our long-range plan and we are well prepared to capitalize on them in 2011 and the years to come,'' Myron E. Ullman III, J.C. Penney's chairman and chief executive, said in the news release.
It remains unclear what's in store for Rolling Acres.
The property was purchased for $3 million in November by the investment group Premier Ventures LLC of Irvine, Calif.
The J.C. Penney location and the four other former anchor stores — Sears, Target, Macy's and Dillard's — remain independently owned and weren't part of the purchase, said Tim Dimoff, president of Akron-based SACS Consulting. Dimoff has been the local spokesman for the new owner and the previous owner, Investment Commercial of Beverly Hills, Calif.
The new owners are completing a study to determine how to use the mall, Dimoff said. Options could include a mixed-use business center that would increase college-type or vocational operations, call centers, medical or other offices and possibly some stores and restaurants.
Dimoff said the potential closing of the J.C. Penney store shouldn't affect plans for the former mall.
''We're still in the process of doing an assessment of determining the best avenues or options,'' he said. ''I expect that to take several months.''
An estimated 3,900 jobs will be affected by the moves J.C. Penney announced on Monday. Local employment figures weren't available.
The chain runs more than 1,100 department stores in the U.S. and Puerto Rico and employs about 150,000 people.
The moves will add about 7 cents per share to Penney's 2012 earnings, the company said. The Plano, Texas, retailer will take charges of about 8 cents a share in the fourth quarter and 5 cents per share in 2011 related to the actions.
J.C. Penney shares surged 7.2 percent, or $2.18, to close at $32.52. The stock has traded between $19.42 and $35.12 over the last year.
Cheryl Powell can be reached at 330-996-3902 or email@example.com.
The Associated Press and MarketWatch contributed to this report.