I’ll say this for Ron Johnson: He has turned staid J.C. Penney into the most talked-about retailer in the nation. The company accounted for five of the 10 most-viewed stories on this website in the first half of 2012 (see story). And industry analysts and consultants can’t stop speculating on the chain’s fortunes, in print, on the web and on television.
In a way you can’t blame them. The fact is there is a lot of news coming out about J.C. Penney. Every day seems to bring a new story (or a new rumor). So here’s a recap of some of the most recent developments:
• Joe Fresh, the Canadian cheap-chic retailer, has entered into an agreement to roll out in-store shops next spring in approximately 700 J.C. Penney stores nationwide.
The brand, which is owned by Loblaw Cos. Ltd., operates only a handful of U.S. stores, all of them in the New York metro area. The deal with J.C. Penney provides Joe Fresh with a great opportunity to expand its footprint here not only very fast, but also in a very cost-efficient manner.
“To get this many stores this fast is a real vote of confidence on both sides. It’s a really bold move for a Canadian brand retailer to make in the United States. I would go so far as to say it’s the boldest,” said Wendy Evans, president of Evans & Co. retail consultants in Toronto, in a report by the Toronto Star.
The Joe Fresh shops will be allotted from 1,000 to 2,500 sq. ft. in each J.C. Penney store and the potential for more if it does well, the report said.
• More details are coming out about the branded shops that Johnson plans to roll out, with the first batch debuting in time for this year’s back-to-school shopping season. (The ultimate plan is to have 100 branded shops inside the stores by 2015.) The branded shops will come in three different formats: “boutiques” (the smallest, at under 750 sq. ft.), “shops” and “stores” (the largest, at over 1,400 sq. ft.)