J.C. Penney to Martha Stewart: It's not a good thing

Complaining that her housewares aren't selling, the beleaguered retailer may be showing her the door.

By Aimee Picchi Sep 5, 2013 10:49AM

Shoppers at a J.C. Penney store in New York, NY on October 23, 2009 (© Mark Lennihan/AP)Updated 9:38 p.m. ET

J.C. Penney's (JCP) experience with Martha Stewart hasn't exactly been a "good thing" for the troubled retailer. 


Former Penney chief executive Ron Johnson, who was reviled by many inside and outside the retailer for his high-flying ways, got the company embroiled in a nasty courtroom fight with rival Macy's (M) over the rights to sell the domestic diva’s wares. 


While Penney is still waiting for a final courtroom ruling on that licensing dispute, new CEO Mike Ullman has already made his own judgment: Martha Stewart has to go, reports the New York Post. 


Ullman, who replaced Johnson after Penney's stock and retail sales plunged, has decided to break off the relationship with Stewart and isn't waiting for the court decision. Instead, the Post notes, Ullman made his decision after finding that the Stewart-designed housewares aren't grabbing customers. 


J.C. Penney didn't immediately return requests for comment from MSN moneyNOW. But Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia (MSO) said, "J.C. Penney remains one of our many retail partners. Our agreement with them is in force, and we have no intention of ending it. We are committed to working with them to design high-quality, beautiful and affordable products for consumers around the country."


Ullman is reportedly not impressed with Stewart's designs, which are provided to Penney as part of a pricey 10-year, $200 million agreement. 


On Penney's recent second-quarter conference call, Ullman didn't mention Stewart's wares specifically, although he did call out the home-goods department's "underperformance." 


But anecdotal evidence backs up the report's claim that Stewart's products aren't connecting with Penney shoppers. Many of the items, sold under the JCP Everyday label, have been marked down, while some Martha Stewart lamps were on clearance this summer, the New Yorker notes. 


Stewart's brand of home decorating might simply be too expensive for the average Penney customer. Some rugs, such as her "Square Dance" floor covering in "fennel seed," carry price tags as hefty as $1,900. 


That's an impossible price to ask of most Penney customers, given that almost one-third of the retailer's customers make less than $35,000 a year.


Follow Aimee Picchi on Twitter at @aimeepicchi.

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Sep 5, 2013 11:45AM

Don't know why they ever hooked up with Martha in the first place. She was in K-Mart and look what's happened to them.  At K-Mart, Maceys, or Penneys, her stuff is over priced crap.  Maybe they need to let a woman run the place.  We know how to spot over-priced crap. 

Sep 5, 2013 12:36PM
Sell quality products at reasonable prices and you won't need to waste 200 million on celebrity endorsements. Word will spread fast among consumers.

HMMMMM... Ten year contract for 200 mil..


NOW they figure out it doesnt match their customer base..


Who hires these people????

Sep 5, 2013 1:08PM
I pretty much avoid products that have "famous" people endorsing them, because I know that has made the price higher - not because it is better, but because they have to pay the celebrities more.  I do the same with tv or radio commercials.  I'm not paying more so the "celebs" can live in even bigger and more fabulous houses.
we used to get our kids clothes from there a while back when they had a large selection and really good prices. Now they have a fraction of the selection and more expensive. They need to go back to what they were before

Sep 5, 2013 11:17AM
None of the celebrity brands really do much because the consumer knows it's all Chinese knock-offs with a label not a guarantee of quality. Over the next few months I suspect many endorsement deals will be eliminated but the REAL source of the problem won't be-- the gimmick global economy ruiner business platform that thought it was a windfall to kill jobs here but rely on our cash for sales. Wall St and Madison Ave have to go. Quality is a hallmark, not a huckster mantra.
Sep 5, 2013 12:55PM
Blah!  Please get her stuff out!  Let us have JCPenney as it is supposed to be!!!!!
Sep 5, 2013 1:44PM
I worked for Pottery Barn in their design group....we designed everything and developed it ourself...no stupid celebrity names....Martha's stuff in Macy's and K-Mart are pretty much junk.  If JCP had a clue they would set up a design team and go for it...they should also get rid of the notion that Interns and Co-Ops are going to save the day...hire real designers and developers and control their destiny...they might stay in business if they do !
Sep 5, 2013 12:14PM

Any time I see a product that uses some fancy movie stars name,  or some so called famous sports persons name,  I do not buy it.  Those products put many dollars in the so called famous persons bank account,  and that does not make the product any better.


If the product producer would hire ugly, fat, dumplins to advertise their product, and pay them very little,  then they could sell the product much cheaper.


And we wonder what is wrong with the economy.


I D O's, A Me Go.

Sep 5, 2013 1:35PM
The Amish had it right all this time.

- No Chinese crap
- No crap quality builder housing
- No politically correct schools
- No poison food
- No direct or indirect exploitation through retail
- No NSA (other than satellites)

WE'RE ALL GOING TO HELL ! ---- Wait --- too late
Sep 5, 2013 12:55PM

The worst towels I ever bought had Martha Stewart's name on them. 

I won't buy any more of her junk!  In fact, if she disappeared in the next hour...I'm not sure there would be that many who would miss her...I wouldn't!

Sep 5, 2013 1:13PM
Bye Martha!  For crying out loud, you have enough money to last the rest of your life.
Sep 5, 2013 1:43PM
I love Penney's but since they got rid of most of their plus size department and they redecorated all the stores to resemble dorm rooms, I don't go there unless I absolutely can't find it someplace else.  I hate the new modern bright crayon colors that they are trying to pass off as essential to everyone's home.  You can't even buy a towel in a normal color there anymore.  They're all special towels with big loops that get caught in your ring and are in the most atrocious colors.  Same with the bedding department, nothing I would put in my house at all.  All this crap they have now is great for dorm rooms and that's about it.
Sep 5, 2013 1:07PM

I'm So done with Marthas Crap..Her products

are Really Poorly made..I even avoid Maceys

because of Martha

Sep 5, 2013 11:42AM
Penney's is looking for scapegoats to mask their ineptness. When your clothes are shrinking and getting holes in them five times faster than they used to, you can't blame all your financial woes on kitchenware.
Sep 5, 2013 2:13PM
Sep 5, 2013 2:13PM

J.C.K-Wal Mart Penny.......crappy products made in China for red blooded Americans.

Sep 5, 2013 12:35PM
Sep 5, 2013 2:41PM
Until J.C. Penny goes back to its roots of American made quality goods branded as J.C. Penny, they will continue to slide in oblivion. 
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