When Ron Johnson, the retail executive credited with making Apple stores into the money-making machines they are today, took over the helm at JC Penney last June industry executives expected he would spell major changes for the lagging department store. Today, they got a glimpse of what Johnson has in mind.
At a much-publicized media event this afternoon, Johnson announced that JC Penney would do away with its confusing discounting strategy and will re-design the chain's stores to resemble a Main Street experience, with anywhere from 80 to 100 stores-within-a-store for customers to choose from.
According to Johnson, during 2011, JC Penney ran 590 different promotions, which were largely ignored by shoppers:
“At some point, you, as a brand, look desperate if you have to market that much.” He will move to monthlong promotions, on which Penney will spend $80 million a month, he said. And instead of mailed fliers, the company will have a 96-page magazinelike circular.
From now on, instead of marketing items as "x percent off full price," JC Penney will sell merchandise using only three price levels: regular price, month-long value and best price, which will be offered on the first and third Fridays of every month for merchandise that hasn't cleared at regular or month-long value prices.
In addition, the retailer will vastly expand its store-within-a-store program, with brands including Martha Stewart and l'amour nanette lepore. For full details on the overhaul, click here.