Is JC Penney's new look a failure?
The man who redefined Apple's retail space is attempting an overhaul of the floundering department store -- but analysts and investors aren't convinced.
Over the past year, JC Penney (JCP) has embarked on a grand mission to boost its lagging sales and redefine its dated brand. But its first major bid to be the next great American retail space is facing a setback.
Last weekend, investors reacted to a sneak preview of J.C. Penney's new look with disappointment, sending the retail chain's shares tumbling and sparking concern about its long-term sustainability.
The "new J.C. Penney" is spearheaded by Ron Johnson, the brain behind Apple's (AAPL) wildly successful retail makeover in 2001. Under Johnson's guidance, J.C. Penney will embrace a "stores in a store" model that will see brands setting up mini-stores on Penney's floors.
Though responses to Johnson's model have been generally positive, there are many people who doubt he can achieve the total brand makeover he's attempting, which aims to attract younger, higher-income shoppers.
After all the hype, does the new J.C. Penney stand a chance?
Johnson's plan is dead in the water. After plenty of hype, the sneak peek of JC Penney's new look "failed to inspire confidence" in Johnson's grand vision for the chain, says Sapna Maheshwari at Businessweek. Johnson's model store was impressive looking, but it's just one store; the real challenge will be "to replicate it in 700 stores" across the country, and even then, it's not clear that sales will improve. The consensus among the analysts who got a taste of the new JC Penney was mixed at best, and it will be an uphill battle back to profitability, with plenty of pitfalls along the way.
The model is a diamond in the rough. The "experts" scoffing at Johnson's plan are the same ones who predicted Apple's demise "because other retailers like Gateway were failing," says Carmine Gallo at Forbes. Johnson beat the odds before, and with JC Penney, he "has a very real chance to successfully re-imagine the customer experience yet again." Johnson's forward-thinking plan is "still in the first inning," but his comprehensive knowledge of contemporary shopping habits will eventually lead him to accomplish his "audacious yet captivating goal."
His plan isn't bad, but it may not work for J.C. Penney. "It might just be easier to launch an entirely fresh and new department store from scratch, rather than attempt to drag a 110-year-old brand into the future," says Brad Tuttle at TIME. In its bid to transform its "old lady image" into something sleek and modern, Johnson has thrown out the store's old coupon-based pricing system -- and as a result, lost its old customers. And even if the "epic transformation" pushed by Johnson is possible, there's a serious chance that it won't be in time: As J.C. Penney sales (and stocks) continue to decline, it's clear that "the much hyped transformation just isn't occurring quickly enough."
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The customers are stupid, thinking if they have a coupon it's a better deal. I'm 75 years old and do not miss the stupid coupons. Just go in buy what you need no hassle and a low price. What don't they understand about a LOW price.?
I love the old Pennys and love the coupons. I wish they would go back to old format.
Just finished reading all 386 comments about JCP. Here's the bottom line. JCP was started by a Christian man w/ Christian values & philosophy. Hense a blessing from above was upon it. This morality code brought in a certain demographic of loyal customers. The new management has NO MORAL CODE that it follows. In fact it is a immoral code. Hense the blessing is removed. There is quite possibly a new spirit over the store now. The place is empty. Loyal workers were fired. People obiviously are feeling a negative spirit. So obivious by all the negative comments. Even the music changed. You see and hear it in most of the comments, give us quality clothes at reasonable prices. Give us sales, coupons & bring back the online catalogues. Give us service, service sevice. I guess I've been out of touch w/ the Homosexual advertising. NOT THAT THERE'S ANYTHING RIGHT W/ THAT! Why appeal to the 3%? As a Christian pastor I would never enter a JCP ever again & I will let my people know about the changes of philosophy too!
Just went shopping this afternoon at JCPenney found shirts that looked Great, have great style and great price. So far OK by me
I use to shop there for my sons back to school clothes , but one year we went he didnt find anything he liked ,so we started shopping a khols for my sons clothes . my son eric use to not want to go any wheres but jc pennys every year . havent been back to pennys since 2009.
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Consumers are very status conscious in Asia, Africa and other emerging-market areas. This is especially true in China.
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