updated 1/16/2006 4:15:26 PM ET 2006-01-16T21:15:26

Mervyns LLC said Monday it will close 20 stores in three states by next year, affecting more than 1,400 positions, as the struggling retailer aims to improve its profits.

The stores are in Washington, Oregon and Salt Lake City. All are to be closed by February 2007.

Last September, the Hayward-based company announced it was closing 62 stores in eight states. That process is expected to be completed by next month.

The company will shutter 13 low-volume department stores in Washington state, six stores in Oregon and one store in Salt Lake City. The move will allow Mervyns to concentrate its investments on existing and new store locations in its profitable core markets in the West and Southwest, the company said.

“Exiting the underperforming markets of Oregon and Washington will allow us to make investments that better serve our customers and Mervyns’ future,” said Vanessa Castagna, executive chairwoman of Mervyns’ board. “We are confident that these decisions are right for Mervyns’ future growth and success, and are consistent with the strategy that we announced in September 2005.”

A company spokeswoman said 221 full-time and 659 part-time jobs will be lost in Washington; 100 full-time jobs and 383 part-time jobs will be lost in Oregon; and 15 full-time and 38 part-time jobs will be lost in Salt Lake City.

Mervyns has been steadily losing market share to more nimble competitors for years. Frustrated with the chain’s meager returns, Target Corp. sold Mervyns last year for $1.65 billion to a group of investors that includes Sun Capital Partners, Inc., Cerberus Capital Management LP and Lubert-Adler and Klaff Partners LP.

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