JCPenney looks for new growth engines

From a recent RetailWire discussion about new initiatives at JCP outside of its core department store business. There are two web-only concepts under development, along with a big & tall specialty concept for men. My opinion:

It’s worthwhile for JCPenney to think “outside the box” of its core business for new growth opportunities that it can manage, but it’s also an acknowledgement that its sales have stalled. JCP seems to have a new strategy every six months for revitalizing its comp sales and market share, mostly centered around a new brand initiative — from American Living to Sephora, from Liz Claiborne to MNG by Mango. At the same time, its assortments and private brands are badly in need of editing.

Two of the three new initiatives are web-only, which suggests that JCP doesn’t have confidence in their placement inside existing brick & mortar stores — or as freestanding concepts — but e-commerce may also turn out to be a viable testing ground. The big & tall business feels like a niche opportunity to me (even though I would be a target consumer) that has not been fully exploited in JCP’s physical stores.

Bottom line: Other national retailers (Macy’s, Target, Kohl’s) seem to be in a better position than JCPenney today to generate organic growth.

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