Last weekend’s CBS Sunday Morning had a segment that profiled JC Penny and CEO Ron Johnson (formally of Apple). I’m fascinated with Johnson’s optimism (I say it as such because I cannot tell whether it’s just a front or if he truly believes in what he’s trying to achieve).
Breaking news guys - I am no business analyst - I don’t know much about the retail industry. What I do know is that as of the past few years, JC Penny has resembled that of Sears (a desolate, hive-inducing, fluorescent waste of retail space). Both retailers are on the brink of bankruptcy and need a saving grace to survive.
So, in comes this businessman - credited with achieving a record level of growth for Apple - and must do the unthinkable for a struggling department store (in a time when the department store is a thing of the past).
Is Johnson following the the footsteps of Bonnie Brooks? All answers are pointing to “yes”! Johnson is bringing in Joe Fresh among other “specialty shops” (the same way Brooks brought Topshop to Canada). Johnson wants to sell iPads, gelato and spa services (the same way Brooks is selling luxe coffee makers, chocolate and spa services). E-commerce is back for HBC and JCP has redesigned their site, which looks relatively appealing for the online shopper.
In three years, Bonnie Brooks has done wonders for the company - in 2011, they increased retail sales, reduced costs and cited a significant increase in net earnings compared to an $18 million dollar loss in 2009. JCP, on the other hand, continues to report severe sales declines and plummeting stock prices - is this foreshadowing the outcome of Johnson’s efforts?
Most of me thinks he will turn this company around. I think the old JCP customer is not the contemporary JCP customer (mainly because of the elimination of coupons). The JCP customer appreciates fashion and style and if Johnson is able to redecorate (for lack of a better word) - it will be appealing (at least) to potential consumers. After all, isn’t that what Apple’s sleek stores aim to achieve?
So what do you think; is the new JCP DOA?