JCPenney revitalizes catalog, Internet biz

Carole Sloan, Staff Staff, May 20, 2002

The retail, catalog and Internet segments of JCPenney's department store business are undergoing an "intense examination and review of every aspect of the business" in an effort to peel away the unprofitable parts of the catalog and Internet.

As a result, Allen Questrom, chairman and ceo of the corporation, told shareholders at the annual meeting here on Friday, "We are determining those areas in the store, and in the catalog, that are integrated — those areas where it's important for the catalog to support the store assortments."

In a meeting with analysts here last month, Questrom pointed to Penney's dominant window coverings business, where there is a definite synergy between catalog and retail.

Questrom noted that the company was "developing the part of the catalog that appeals to only the pure catalog customer. In some cases they're one and the same; in others, they're totally different."

Penney already has dropped some of these more focused catalogs, including a number in home furnishings, and more catalogs will be forthcoming as the year progresses.

Questrom told shareholders that in the short term this would result in a "smaller but more profitable business. We've made significant changes to many of our policies," which have already had an impact on profitability. At the analyst meeting he noted that the catalog, once a $4 billion plus entity, was now "somewhere south of $3 billion."

In addition, Questrom said "remains an attractive shopping venue for an expanding base of customers."

The Penney site, he remarked "is consistently ranked as one of the top home furnishings and apparel sites in converting visitors to customers."

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