J.C. Penney wants you back. It’s sorry it ever tried to do away with coupons and sales. It wants you to know, customers, that you’re the love of its life and that its learned from its mistakes. So, please come back? Pretty please?
In an unusual move, the troubled retailer has released 15 and 30 second commercials apologizing to customers.
Though J.C. Penney hasn’t yet recovered from its roller coaster year (CEO Ron Johnson was outed earlier this month after his ambitious restructuring plans failed to see immediate results), the retailer has found an important cheerleader (a lifeline even?) in investor and philanthropist George Soros.
J.C. Penney CEO Ron Johnson is out, according to a press release sent out by the company. The store’s former CEO, Mike Ullman, will replace him. This news should not come as a surprise to anyone who’s been watching the Penney saga unfold. Johnson, a former Apple and Target exec who joined J.C. Penney in November 2011, tried to bring the long-struggling store into the 21st Century with an updated design, tons of designer collaborations, lower prices, and the elimination of discounts. (Each of these tactics, particularly the last one, alienated what’s left of Penney’s loyal customers. People are creatures of habit. They’re used to markdowns. Even if a product is cheaper in the first place, they can’t help but want to see it discounted.)
Anyway, Johnson also brought in some great brands to Penney, including Martha Stewart (whoops, that resulted in a lawsuit), Michelle Obama favorite Duro Olowu, MNG by Mango and Joe Fresh. These were all great prospects. But no matter how hard Johnson tried, no matter how good his strategy was, it was never going work. Here’s why.
JCPenney is in major restructuring mode this year and we can’t blame them–other mass retailers and department stores are constantly pushing new collaborations and retail concepts and Penney’s has always been a little stale by comparison.
In January, the company announced a slew of new measures, which included reorganizing the store layout to function more like shop-in-shops, with various collaborations with other labels–not unlike Target’s new concept. And they’ve just announced even more changes. But is it working? Not yet–yesterday, the company logged a $163 million loss for the first quarter of 2012, which is a bigger hit than executives and investors expected and probably not good considering their restructuring plan is supposed to set them back $800 million this year–especially when much of that restructuring is probably dependent on cash flow from investors.
JCPenney has been in the news a lot lately; the retailer is very publicly trying to change its stodgy image and bring exciting brands to the store, with the ultimate goal of, naturally, getting people to shop there again. A Target-esque merchandising strategy was rolled out by JCP’s new-ish CEO Ron Johnson at the beginning of the year, featuring collaborations with established designers and a new shop-in-shop format instead of an open selling floor. But will it work?
Wednesday, JCPenney CEO Ron Johnson unveiled details of a major overhaul that JCPenney stores are about to undergo. Based on WWD’s report this morning, nothing will go unchanged–save for the name of the store and its passable ecommerce component.
Johnson is focusing on the brick and mortar stores and his plans for those sound a little familiar. That’s because they’re similar to those of another mass retailer who recently announced a new retail strategy–Target. While JC Penney won’t necessarily have the same type of rotating limited edition collaboration component as The Shops at Target, their new selling floor format is the same idea. It’s all about “shops.”