Inside This Issue - News
J.C. Penney to transform stores
October 29th, 2012
WILLOW GROVE, Pa. – J.C. Penney Co. recently provided a look at its vision of the future of department store retailing. The company’s new store in this Philadelphia suburb shows off its “Shops” concept, a collection of store-within-a-store departments meant to showcase hot brands and become shopper destinations.
The 125,000-square-foot outlet “features wide aisles, modern lighting, dynamic merchandise presentation, and unmatched customer service,” said store leader Carrie Barrus.
It also has an in-store, 1,700-square-foot Sephora department, complete with that retailer’s own beauty advisors, and its signature makeup, skin care, fragrance, bath and accessory brands.
Much of the rest of the floor space in the two-story outlet is organized into “shops” of 500 square feet or more, which showcase such brands as Levi’s, Liz Claiborne, the Original Arizona Jean Co., Izod, MNG by Mango, i jeans by Buffalo, and the new jcp private label brand.
Speaking at the ribbon cutting earlier this month, Barrus told customers that the store’s current batch of Shops are just the beginning.
"Over the next few years J.C. Penney stores will visually transform into a collection of shops, showcasing major apparel and home brands," she said. "We’ll continue to add shops periodically until we have 100 brand shops by 2014. You can look forward to brands like Martha Stewart, Jonathan Adler, and Michael Graves, among many others."
Chief executive officer Ron Johnson’s vision for Penney is to transform its outlets from mid-market department stores into collections of specialty stores. Eventually, the outlets’ wider aisles will feature couches, tables and computer browsing areas to encourage people to spend more time.
The Willow Grove store has not implemented that idea, although it does have wider aisles. And the Levi’s men’s shop in the store features a “denim bar” with stools, and a pair of iPads that function as digital catalogs of the brand’s offerings in the store.
The outlet’s merchandise displays also feature numerous signs that call shoppers’ attention to Penney’s new pricing strategy, which is based on everyday-low prices instead of sales and coupons.
Under the slogan “fair and square,” the signs carry such messages as: “Everyday low prices mean you can shop anytime,” “Honest pricing isn’t old fashioned. Integrity is always in style,” and “Others mark it up to mark it down — we price it low every day.”
The elimination of sales has so far proven to be a tough sell for the company, which has reported two quarters of steep same-store sales declines. For the second quarter ended July 28, for example, Penney reported that same store sales fell 21.7% versus the comparable prior-year period.
Johnson stated after the quarter that he still believes the retailer’s strategy is sound.
"We have now completed the first six months of our transformation and, while business continues to be softer than anticipated, we are confident the transformation of J.C. Penney is on track," he remarked. "The transition from a highly promotional business model to one based on everyday value will take time, and we will stay the course."
Johnson noted that in addition to opening the first of its Shops, Penney is ramping up its marketing efforts.
"We continue to learn and adjust," he said, "and fully expect that our unique, specialty department store experience will drive long-term success. Our rock-solid balance sheet will support the execution of our transformation and position us for growth beginning in 2013."