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J.C. Penney, other retailers, take on tough task of reinventing

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Trying to redefine itself, Sears Holdings introduced a flurry of concepts when its new chairman, Edward Lampert, took over.

It converted stores not attached to malls into Sears Grand stores, which carried food and pharmacy items beside traditional merchandise. A nostalgia-themed store with banjo music and glass jars of candy was tested in suburban Atlanta. The company tried new marketing slogans: “Sears. Where it begins” (2007); “Reimagine You” (2008); “Sears. Life. Well Spent” (2009).

It also improved online efforts, including introducing MyGofer, which allows consumers to order groceries online.

None of those efforts reversed Sears’ fortunes since Lampert took over in 2005. Last year, same-store sales in the U.S. at the company, which owns Sears and Kmart, dropped 1.6 percent. Revenue fell 1.7 percent, results that were “completely unacceptable,” Lampert wrote in his annual letter to shareholders.

Difficult to change » Reinventing retailing, as many chains have learned, is not easy.

Yet J.C. Penney is setting out to rethink the shopping experience, announcing last week that it had hired as CEO Ron Johnson, who is in charge of Apple’s stores.

Analysts have said that if anyone can revive tired mall stores, Johnson is a good candidate to succeed. But the question remains whether tired mall stores can be revived.

Source : Salt Lake Tribune

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