Local store not in Kmart cutbacks

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 15, 2003

NATCHEZ &045; The Natchez Kmart store is not among the 326 stores nationwide that will be closed in the coming months.

The corporation, continuing to work through a bankruptcy filed nearly a year ago, on Tuesday notified employees about the latest move to reorganize finances.

&uot;The Natchez store is a very profitable store,&uot; said Pam Cobb, human resources manager at the Natchez Kmart. &uot;Our district manager called this morning and said we are not on the list.&uot;

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Cobb said company officials have spoken openly about the restructuring with all employees and, in the case of the Natchez store, assured workers the new round of closures will not affect them.

&uot;I’m sure all our shoppers will be happy to know we’re going to be here and we’re going to be open,&uot; said Cobb, who has been with the store since it opened in 1987 and has worked for Kmart for 20 years.

The Associated Press reported that Kmart, a year into its bankruptcy status, has continued to lose money. Store closings will allow the corporation to get out of leases.

Still, the closures must win court approval. Kmart is scheduled to appear in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Chicago on Jan. 28.

In Mississippi, Kmart will close stores in Jackson, Meridian and Yazoo City. In Louisiana, stores in West Monroe, Baton Rouge, Lafayette, Slidell and New Orleans will close, along with two in Shreveport.

In March 2002, Kmart closed 284 stores, putting 22,000 people out of work across the country in 40 states as it began reorganizing under bankruptcy protection.

John Christopher, manager of the Natchez Kmart, was unavailable for comment Tuesday.

Cobb said Tuesday employees at the Natchez Kmart deserve much of the credit for the store’s success.

&uot;From my own personal level, I see our employees as very friendly, helpful people,&uot; she said. &uot;Our shoppers enjoy coming here because of that.&uot;