PLANO, TX-Though J. C. Penney Co. is cutting back on store openings next year, it will continue to look at opportunities resulting from industry consolidation, executives said at its third-quarter conference call.

The chain has completed its 2008 expansion plan of 35 new stores, and will open 17 new stores next year, down from an original 20, largely because of project delays on the developers’ end. Future growth in 2009 and 2010 will come in areas where Penney is underrepresented and with developers who are well financed, said Myron E. (Mike) Ullman, III, chairman and CEO.

“We’re not trying to lead out of the downturn by taking a lot of risk with projects that are not fully developed,” Ullman said.

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