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JCPenney to Seduce Stylish Shoppers with 'Studio'

Carole Sloan, Maria Weiskott -- Home Textiles Today, January 30, 2006

New York — The new Studio by JCPenney Home Collection targets a home furnishings customer not previously wooed by the giant department store retailer — the customer who is looking for modern, relaxed styling that is neither trendy, chrome nor minimalist.

Studio home products that will be launched formally next month in 500 stores include bed and bath, window coverings, area rugs, lamps, vases and decorative accessories. Furniture, tabletop and flatware will complete the initial launch in July. Both merchandise segments will be featured as well in the company's catalog and on its billion-dollar Internet site.

“Studio is unlike any other furniture and home furnishings assortment we've offered at JCPenney,” said Ken Hicks, president and chief merchandising officer. “Studio fits a modern niche preferred by style-driven customers who are already shopping in our stores for apparel, but shopped elsewhere for updated home products.”

“We see Studio as a simple, cleaner and easy living design style,” explained Deb Evans, vp, product development, home. “It's a clear departure from what we've had.”

“The modern customer has a different lifestyle. She is constantly decorating, constantly shopping,” Evans observed, “and we will be communicating with her in a manner that she responds to.” As a result, Penney will accelerate its renewal of product for Studio with at least a quarterly updating.

Studio joins four other private home brand launches from JCPenney in the past three years, Evans related: Chris Madden for JCPenney Home Collection, Chris Madden Hotel, Cooks, and Colin Cowie.

The initial collection of several patterns in bedding, towels, along with window coverings, area rugs and accessories, plus the later furniture and tabletop segments will comprise 1,000-plus SKUs.

Price points are keyed to a moderate customer, Evans stated. Typical prices are $159 for the queen bedding, $6.99 for the sale towel, and $499 for the platform bed. Dinnerware will be $49.99 for the 16-piece set and $49.99 for the 20-piece flatware set. Rugs will be $129.99 on sale for the 5 by 8 but sizes will be extended to 12 by 14 in the catalog.

Cotton sheets have a soft sunwashed finish with a wrinkly hand. In towels, a complex neutral — dune — has registered in first place in preview sales with cool white in second place and a coal black in third place.

Technological advances allowed the true, rich deep black to come to market without crocking problems. Fashion colors include copper canyon, cranberry apple and stillwater blue.

Marketing efforts for Studio will include preprints at the end of February and early March as well as visual graphics in-store, along with ads in national shelter magazines and broadcast.

“This customer is part of our varied lifestyle, company-wide strategy,” explained Michael Cape, vp marketing. “We'll be saying that great design is affordable and we are offering great product.” However, in contrast to the standard ways developed by JCPenney to showcase assortments, he said, “There will be a different presentation in store. It will be a matter of how we style and shoot the products and craft the position of the brand.”

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