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JCP intros new pricing, new logo, new...everything

New York - The invitation to JCPenney's strategic outlook today meeting promised "fresh air," and the presentation did not disappoint.
New ceo Ron Johnson and new president Michael Francis outlined strategies for rebuilding the brand by simplifying pricing, dramatically whittling down promotions, rolling out shop-in-shops throughout the store and, ultimately, creating a new prototype for what a department store should look like in the 21st Century.
In making the case for streamlined pricing, Johnson was remarkably frank about the illusory nature of the retail industry's current tagging strategies. Penney's customer, he said, "doesn't even start paying attention to pricing offers until they hit 40% off." In face, 72% of the company's merchandise is sold at 50% off or better.
The new pricing grid - being billed as "fair and square" - will consist of three tiers beginning Feb. 1:

  • Lower everyday prices more reflective of the sweet spot at which goods actually move;
  • Month-long specials;
  • Best prices, which will be offered on the first and third Friday of each month and are designed to clear out merchandise - although Johnson insisted that "clearance" is over.

By way of example, he pointed to a core Penney towel that now retails at $10, but actually moves out the door, once all the discounts are taken into consideration, at $3.30. Its new everyday price will be $4, said Johnson.
New TV spots announcing the change broke this morning and also feature the retailer's new logo.
Other news:

  • Beginning in August, JCP will introduce at least two new shop concepts per month, and by 2015 every store will be converted to the concept with 100 shop-in-shops.
  • Next year, Penney will debut a new prototype - influenced, said Johnson, by some of the lessons he learned developing Apple's retail concept. Merchandise will be on "Main Street," which will surround what he called "Town Square," presumably an interactive and more community-oriented space.
  • Ellen DeGeneres has signed on as the company's new spokesperson.

"We're going to get momentum for this brand unlike any other in America," he said.
In place of coupons and promotions, JCPenney will produce a monthly book on high-quality paper focusing on events critical to that month and building product around them. The debut book, which mails out this month, focuses on the month of February. Its 96 pages include sections devoted to spring clothing, Valentine's Day, entertaining for Academy Awards and Super Bowl parties, travelling for winter break and a "Rise and Shine" section featuring Liz Claiborne bed and bath as well as a few kitchen items.


Editor's note: For a blow-by-blow account of the presentation, check out HTT's live tweets from the show at!/HomeTextilesTod


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