Just when it seemed there wasn’t a new idea in retail, J.C. Penney laid out an ambitious plan to overhaul its stores and brand. Some highlights:
- Fewer sales, lower prices. J.C. Penney CEO Ron Johnson confirmed what we already know: Very little department store merchandise, like 2 percent, sells at full price. So rather than go through the motions of pricing it high only to put it on clearance, J.C. Penney will price most merchandise 30 percent lower to start, with month promotions on select goods.
- Shops within the store. You know it: J.C. Penney is blah. Following its success with Sephora shops within JC Penney, the entire floor will be gradually reconfigured into mini shops.
- Monthly themes more in line with our lives rather than the retail calendar. So January might be about “renewal,” as WWD reported, with special merchandise to support the theme. (Can’t wait to see if they can really resist breaking out the Christmas decor the day after Halloween).
- Ellen DeGeneres as the new spokeswoman in ads.
- New brands, like Nanette Lepore creating a juniors dress and sportswear line called l’amour nanette lepore.
- Every brand makeover requires a P. Diddy move: J.C. Penney wants be known as JCP. The initials were revealed today on new red, white and blue logos.
It would be nice to think the stores can really evolve as dramatically as Johnson, a retail visionary credited with major change at Target and Apple, as dramatically as described. At the very least, J.C. Penney-er, JCP-has retailers talking about (and no doubt defending) promotional pricing and in a meaningful way.
This is going to be fun to watch.
MN p.s.: J.C. Penney was my first guess at a replacement for Bloomingdale’s at MOA. Industry response to that theory was tepid…but with today’s news, I can’t help but think what a perfect place MOA would be to unveil a completely reinvented JCP. Say 90,000 square feet or so?