J.C. Penney To Follow a ‘Johnson Lite’ Approach

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J.C. Penney Company, Inc. (NYSE:JCP) is not completely abandoning former CEO Ron Johnson’s vision—at least not yet. Bloomberg’s Matt Townsend refers to the new philosophy at the struggling retail chain as “Johnson Lite.”

J.C. Penney To Follow a ‘Johnson Lite’ Approach

J.C. Penney’s Housewares Emporium

Aside from the everyday low prices strategy introduced by Johnson and shed as soon as he was ousted, he was also working on implementing his shop within a shop philosophy. His new housewares department actually opens this week, and it looks shiny and new and sports bright colors and modern features. However, the rest of the department store looks similar to how it has looked for the last century.

Johnson’s predecessor Myron Ullman is back at the helm of J.C. Penney Company, Inc. (NYSE:JCP), and he’s pretty much working on two-thirds of the space in the stores while leaving the shiny new housewares emporium alone.

Ullman’s Twist On Johnson’s Plans For J.C. Penney

Johnson had planned to offer 100 branded shops inside of J.C. Penney stores, so now Ullman is apparently testing some scaled-down versions of his concept, an indication that the chain might now completely abandon this part of Johnson’s plan.

Some of the mini branded shops inside the retail chain are now offering Haggar and Dockers khakis, although Ullman’s version doesn’t look much like the Khaki Bar Johnson had suggested. If Ullman’s version on Johnson’s concept works on a small scale, he plans to roll it out nationally and add more brands.

Perhaps the greatest challenge Ullman faces is the same one Johnson faced: appealing to both young and old shoppers. The main reason Johnson was ousted as the company’s CEO was because his everyday low prices strategy managed to alienate the older shoppers J.C. Penney Company, Inc. (NYSE:JCP) had relied on for years while also failing to draw in young shoppers.

Ullman’s plan is an attempt to bridge the gap between the two sets of shoppers. He has acknowledged that the changes may be somewhat “jarring” for some of the chain’s long-time shoppers, and he said they need to address those concerns.

J.C. Penney’s Stock Price

Since Ullman returned to J.C. Penney Company, Inc. (NYSE:JCP), the retail chain’s stock has risen 12 percent. As of this writing, it was up 2.5 percent, possibly on the news about Ullman’s new plans. If you remember, when Johnson introduced his shop within a shop approach, it appeared to be working. Earlier this year, national brands were flocking to sign up for the branded concept.

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