Can JC Penney Carry out A Magic Act As It Emerges From Personal bankruptcy?

Following years of struggles, JC Penney may well be at last all set to switch the corner. But what does the office store retailer definitely need to have to do to carry back again consumers?

JC Penney’s issues are absolutely nothing new. The enterprise has found its income lag above the decades and its foot targeted visitors dwindle at its brick-and-mortar retailers. Adjustments manufactured by then-CEO Jill Soltau have been section of a “holistic approach” to completely transform the retailer and attract in people, but the improvements proved fruitless.

JC Penney declared in February 2019 that it was acquiring out of the equipment and furniture business enterprise. It tried using out a reimagined keep concept in Texas in November 2019. It introduced a men’s outside line below the St. John’s Bay model and partnered with thredUP in 2019, and it even introduced its possess denims line for girls the next calendar year.

But it wasn’t plenty of to stave off bankruptcy as it was saddled with $4 billion in debt that was only even more compounded by the influence of the coronavirus pandemic.

In March 2020, JC Penney temporarily shut its doors as nonessential companies were being necessary to shut down owing to condition specifications amid the COVID crisis.

The outcome pinched JC Penney further more, triggering the business to file for individual bankruptcy protection in May possibly 2020, asserting at the identical time that it was closing 242 shops. While the enterprise later on reworked the exact selection of retail store closures, layoffs ensued for its workforce, together with reports of placing its Plano, Texas, headquarters up for sale.

Last but not least, JC Penney identified a buyer in mall operators Simon Residence Team and Brookfield Asset Administration, which picked up the retailer in an undisclosed transaction, which closed in December.

At the time of the acquire, David Simon, president and CEO of Simon Home Team, said in a assertion, “We have normally been company believers in JC Penney, and are very happy to support preserve this iconic institution and help save tens of 1000’s of positions.”

“JCPenney is now poised for a long term-centered on innovation and customers, when continuing to navigate through the pandemic. We are excited about JCPenney’s future expansion and glance ahead to collaborating with the JCPenney workforce to serve its shoppers and communities,” he extra. 

On Dec. 31, Soltau left the organization, and JC Penney reported it was on the look for for new management.

As JC Penney appears to be like to suitable the ship, it desires to take into account what it will acquire to draw in the buyers it missing before and throughout the pandemic.

An location in which the enterprise has been profitable in the earlier with consumers has been with its personal-label models.

Ray Wimer, a professor of retail practice at Syracuse University, informed Intercontinental Business enterprise Times in an e mail that “JCP has to give a reason for their consumers to come to their suppliers/internet site and offering the superior-reduced pricing that they are recognised for and their core prospects like with a concentration on their very own non-public label manufacturers would be a strategy to attract them back again.”

E-commerce will also be important to JC Penney’s survival as it appears to contend from its retail rivals, especially as people have shifted toward on the internet shopping in the course of the pandemic.

“JC Penney is 1 of the manufacturers that need to broaden their arrive at by using e-commerce,” Rob McGovern, CEO of retail data company PreciseTarget, instructed IBT.

“While in-store [sales] will continue on to be their greatest channel, we should really count on them to swim with the currents towards on-line gross sales.

“While the Simon acquisition will acquire JCP steadiness in the close to-expression, their extended-term survival will be dependent on them acquiring a sturdy e-commerce existence. The pandemic has accelerated the change to e-commerce.”

Shopping mall operators Simon Home and Brookfield Asset also have a vested desire in seeing JC Penney realize success.

Doug Wolfe, managing director of corporate recovery at bankruptcy consulting business Gavin/Solmonese, advised IBT that “malls have an interest past the company to continue to keep visitors likely into the malls. Creating the e-commerce company is not their focus. My guess is you may see a ton additional in-retail store specials and events to get the stroll-in site visitors after the COVID problem has subsided.”

Wimer maintains that the highway ahead will not be straightforward for JC Penney.

“It is not only their monetary struggles these earlier couple of several years,” Wimer stated. “The amount of opposition that they are up versus – Kohl’s, TJX, Focus on, and even Walmart — had decent years and ended up ready to commit in technologies, a thing JC Penney was not capable to do. It is going to be difficult sledding for JC Penney.”

Wimer famous that Kohl’s, TJX, Focus on and Walmart have invested heavier into non-public label and compete on cost with JC Penney.

Wolfe agreed with the difficulties that JC Penney faces in advance.

“I feel this is heading to be incredibly tough [for JC Penney]. Unless of course they can appear up with a very innovative and innovative way to reinvent their brand name,” Wolfe said. “The consumer foundation for JC Penney is receiving more mature and more mature and I have not read my children say, ‘Hey, we bought to get to JC Penney right now.'”

JC Penney A man with a Macy’s bag walks past the J. C. Penney’s retail store in New York, April 11, 2013. Image: Reuters