Can Penney apply lessons learned from the Sephora success story?

As JCP expands its co-branding concept to categories like furniture and floor coverings, there is some disagreement about whether its success with Sephora can be applied to even more categories. Here’s my take from a recent RetailWire discussion:

Sephora is not a store-within-a-store idea along the same lines as the branded shops rolled out during the Ron Johnson era. Instead, it gives JCP a chance to be category-dominant in a business (cosmetics) that a traditional department store needs to succeed. And (in JCP’s case) the absence of key brands like Clinique and Lancome made it essential to build the business around a proven concept and name that customers had already embraced.

Macy’s has been quicker to embrace this idea in categories like sunglasses (Sunglass Hut) and athletic shoes (Finish Line). The idea might work in other businesses at JCP but it needs to go all-in with the idea, as it did with Sephora. For now, Penney’s bigger challenge is to convert Sephora shoppers in its stores to apparel and accessory shoppers, too.


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