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Jones Group to close under-performing stores

NEW YORK — The Jones Group Inc. plans to close 170 under-performing stores in the U.S. by mid-2014 as part of its efforts to shore up profitability.

The stores identified for closure include 50 units previously announced in the fourth quarter.

Jones, which owns the Nine West, Jones New York and Anne Klein banners among others, will emerge from the restructuring with a higher percentage of outlet stores in its portfolio, and some units will be converted to more viable sister banners.

"We remain focused on our mission to create the leading global fashion company defined by premier brands,” said CEO Wesley Card.

Other cost-saving initiatives announced by Card include consolidating DCs and cutting staff. About 18% of the company’s retail employees in the U.S. will be terminated, and another 2% of corporate, support and supply chain staff will be cut. Retail staff reductions are already underway and, said the company, will continue through the first half of 2014.  

The aggressive cuts come as Jones has struggled to ride out the economy. The company said Monday that it projects first-quarter earnings to be half what they were in the same period last year.

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