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Transformation Part Deux

Jennifer Marks Editor-In-ChiefJennifer Marks Editor-In-Chief
THERE'S THE $100 MILLION in Martha Stewart merchandise JCPenney reportedly has riding on the water or parked in warehouses in hopes of a favorable ruling in the Macy's lawsuit.
    There's the $1.6 billion in 2012 home department sales. That's a consolidated number for the full home assortment. That's 11% less than JCP's home textiles sales in 2011.
     There's the $575 million in inventory reductions Penney enacted across the board from Feb. 1, 2012 to Feb. 2, 2013. That's not far off the No. 1 home textiles manufacturer's wholesale volume for the year.
     There's the $4.3 billion in lost revenue during the fiscal year. That's as if an entire mid-sized retail chain disappeared from the landscape.
     There's the plunging comp litany: down 18.9% in the first quarter, down 21.7% in the second, down 26.1% in the third, down 31.7% in the fourth. In the fourth quarter of 2009, a miserable period for nearly every retailer in the pit of the Great Recession, Penney's same-store sales slipped 4.5%.
     And then there's the future. Whatever else you can say, ousted ceo Ron Johnson did indeed transform JCPenney. Returning ceo Mike Ullman has on his hands a store base peppered with shop-in-shops - not the 100 Johnson had envisioned, to be sure. But in nearly half the company's stores the new home formats are freshly in place, and work is well underway in a couple hundred more.
     JCPenney also has contractual and royalty commitments to a host of brands that weren't part of the portfolio when Ullman stepped down in late 2011. Not to mention the hundreds of millions (at least) in product already in development for the latter part of this year.
     In the immediate term, of course, Ullman's task will be financial. There's been some speculation about privatizing the company. Ironically, the New York Times reported that when Johnson was approached about taking the helm he suggested that possibility.
     There's also the chance that Ullman's an interim ceo. He said he was contacted just two days before Johnson was let go.
     One thing's for sure - the greatest retail story of the modern era has only grown more riveting.

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