JC Penney has hired advisers to explore debt restructuring options that would buy more time for the money-losing US retailer to forge a turnaround, people familiar with the matter said on Thursday.

The 117-year-old department store chain’s move represents a high-stakes attempt to get its financial house in order before its cash coffers dwindle and its debt, totaling roughly $4 billion, comes due in the next few years.

The Plano, Texas-based company faces fierce competition from discount retailers such as the TJX Cos Marshalls and T.J. Maxx chains, and JC Penney has struggled to boost the profile of its e-commerce business to rival established players such as Amazon.

While JC Penney has more than $1.5 billion available under a revolving credit line, investors have continued to sell off the retailer’s shares in response to financial losses. Its credit rating is deep in junk territory, increasing its borrowing costs.

[Read more]