Appeal to Montgomery Ward : Lynwood Lobbies to Keep Store Open

Times Staff Writer

City officials Tuesday met with local representatives of Montgomery Ward in a last-ditch effort to persuade the Chicago-based retailer to reverse its decision to close its Lynwood store.

Mayor Robert Henning, City Manager Charles Gomez and other officials met for about an hour with Ward representatives at the firm's Rosemead executive offices.

Ward representatives asked that details of the meeting not be made public at this time, Henning said. But he added that the representatives promised to contact Lynwood officials by next week.

"I'm optimistic. They promised to get back with us once they talked with the headquarters in Chicago," Henning said. "We laid out the economic impact the closing of the store would have on the city."

Henning said the store is one of the city's biggest revenue producers, putting about $160,000 in sales taxes into city coffers.

Ward announced Jan. 2 that it was closing the 12-year-old outlet on March 1 for economic reasons.

"The company has been unable to make a satisfactory return on its investment with this store," Bill Herrmann, vice president for the retailer's Southern California territory, stated at the time of the announcement.

About 75 full-time and 130 part-time employees will be laid off, said Lauren Liuk, spokeswoman in the store's Chicago headquarters. She said that employees will be given preference for hiring at other Ward stores in the area.

The closing of the Lynwood store was part of Montgomery Ward's plan to eliminate unprofitable operations, Liuk said, adding that the retailer announced last week that five stores would be closed. The others are two in Texas, and one each in Klamath Falls, Ore., and Red Bluff, Calif.

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