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JCP breaks out with new prototype

Carole Sloan -- Home Textiles Today, April 22, 2002

Plano, TX — With a focus on classification merchandising and key item strength, home textiles in the new prototype JCPenney debuted last week at its nearby Lewisville store adds new approaches to presentation that underscores those merchandising goals.

The 13-year-old store near the company headquarters was selected as more representative of the more than 1,000 Penney stores across the country than its 2-year-old sister store in nearby Frisco, said Charlie Chinni, senior vp, gmm, home and fine jewelry.

In home textiles, for example, classification dominance is projected in segments including decorative bedding, basic bedding, quilts, kids, windows, and bath vs. earlier approaches that were more lifestyle driven.

This approach is consistent throughout the store, where senior merchants in men's, women's and kids all pointed to the dramatic change from lifestyle to classification dominance and key item emphasis. Throughout the store, the presentation reflected the merchandise emphasis.

Overall, Chinni told Home Textiles Today, the focus is on highly edited offerings and a balance between the JCPenney Home Collection and national brands.

As reported by JCPenney, the home textiles division led the store last year with double-digit increases in bed and bath and mid-single-digit increases in window, the latter a business in which Penney holds more than a 30 percent share. The sales trend is continuing, Chinni reported.

According to HTT's Retailing Giants report in the Jan. 7 issue, JCPenney ended the year No. 2 to Wal-Mart overall in home textiles, due in part to Penney's leadership position in windows.

Year to date, sales have seen double-digit increases for bed and bath, specifically sheets, towels, comforters and down. Windows are up in the mid-single digits.

The Lewisville store presentation also reflected what the company is doing to intensify some of its specific home segments. Housewares, for example, under a merchandise and space expansion, will roll out in a new format to about 500 stores. Gifts, cookware, tabletop, and glassware are among the categories to benefit from the expanded format. Within the home area, there will be an increased synergy between catalog, Internet and stores.

As an example of the significance of synergy, 30 percent of all window coverings business comes from catalog referrals from customers in the stores.

In the Lewisville store, new home textiles fixtures are designed as much for flexibility as aesthetics, Chinni said. Slat wall facings are used to hide columns and expand display opportunities; movable tables are designed to hold different products; and half-length beds are mixed with full beds to increase the opportunities as merchandise trends ebb and flow.

Additionally, Penney is accelerating its store presentation changes with what is called "box one" — an internal reference to a 65,000-square foot-store opened last month some 100 miles north of Phoenix, Chinni said. Because this store is designed to offer a number of solutions across the store, there will be different levels of incorporation of the design depending on whether the company is dealing with new stores; remodels of various levels; and a basic improvement plan.

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