FINANCE

Another big loss for J.C. Penney as sales plunge 16.4%

BY Marianne Wilson

Plano, Texas — J.C. Penney Co. reported a deeper-than-expected loss of $348 million for its first quarter, compared to $163 million in the year-ago period, amid a 16.4% decline in revenue. The results came as the company seeks to undo the damage caused by former CEO Ron Johnson’s costly and largely failed makeover.

Excluding restructuring and management transition charges and noncash pension plan expense, Penney’s adjusted net loss for the first quarter, ended May4, was $289 million. Revenue dropped 16.4% to $2.64 billion. Same-store sales fell 16.6%, worse than the 15% decrease analysts predicted.

Penney blamed the revenue declines on Johnson’s failed pricing and marketing strategies. The retailer also said that construction to revamp its home departments had put a dent in sales.

In a conference call with analysts on Thursday, Penney’s new chief executive, Mike Ullman, said that reconnecting with its customers will take time. He said that the retailer recognized “the magnitude of the challenges that we face, and we believe we can put J.C. Penney back on a pathway to profitable growth."

He pledged reemphasize the Penney private brands — the shelved St. John’s Bay for women’s is coming back — and improve the performance of its online store.

"Over the last year, jcp.com functioned as a completely separate entity inside the company, with little synergy between stores and online," Ullman said.

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Online retailer launches womenswear line

BY CSA STAFF

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. — American Giant, a California-based apparel brand for men which operates through a direct-to-consumer e-commerce model, has launched a womenswear line.

The first women’s offerings will consist of both heavyweight and mid-weight sweatshirts and a jersey knit line, all made in America and sold exclusively online. Women will be able to pick from seven styles, all made from 100% pre-washed cotton and shrunk to fit and priced from $19.50 to $89.

Women’s silhouettes include racerback tanks, crew neck tees and V-neck tees, available in 11 colors; French terry sweatshirts, available as full zip in five colors and pullovers in four colors; and heavyweight sweatshirts, available as full-zip in four colors as well as pullovers and full zip mock neck in three colors.

American Giant has also launched a new men’s French Terry sweatshirt line, including the classic silhouettes from the original American Giant line: the full-zip hoodie, pullover hoodie and full-zip track jacket. The French terry fabric is a lighter weight, making ideal for spring and summer.

"We launched in February 2012 with our heavyweight sweatshirt line for men, and today, as we launch our women’s line, our mission remains the same — offer the highest quality products at a fair price to consumers," said American Giant CEO Bayard Winthrop. "At American Giant, we believe strongly that it’s possible to deliver the finest premium basics on the market today while staying 100% made in the USA and keeping prices reasonable. Our women’s line isn’t about adhering to trends or fast fashion, but rather making something that will look great, feel great and last a lifetime."

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Kenmore celebrates centennial

BY CSA STAFF

HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. — Kenmore, one of Sears Holding Company’s key proprietary brands, has turned 100. The brand made its debut on sewing machines in 1913. Since then it has expanded to refrigerators, washing machines, dryers and dish washers.

"This is a momentous milestone for the Kenmore brand. We are proud that for 100 years, so many customers have put their trust in the Kenmore brand to be part of their homes and lives," said Michael Castleman, president, Kenmore, Craftsman and DieHard, SVP Sears Holdings. "With every generation comes new challenges in home life. Our focus at Kenmore is to continually offer the right innovative solutions that enable our members and customers to get more out of their lives."

Throughout the past 100 years, the Kenmore brand has evolved both technology-wise and style-wise. In 1929, the brand unveiled the Gyrator, the first wringer washer that could clean clothes in three to seven minutes. During the 1950s and 1960s it launched the first washer and dryer combination and a pre-soak cycle, respectively. In the 1980s, Kenmore was the first brand to hide the coils in refrigerators so consumers could push it back against a wall. In 2010, the brand launched Kenmore Connect customer service technology, which enables select Kenmore and Kenmore Elite washers and dryers to "talk" directly to service experts via phone so problems can be diagnosed prior to sending a technician to the home. In 2012, the brand launched the first Grab-n-Go, door-in-door, French-door refrigerator.

In 2013, the Kenmore brand is launching a 33-cubic-ft. French door refrigerator and 30-cubic-ft. side-by-side refrigerator that offer the biggest capacity option the brand has ever offered. In addition, the new Kenmore Elite dishwasher lineup has 360° PowerWash and Turbozone technologies incorporated into them that, according to the brand, cleans dishes right the first time. Its front load washer and dryer can clean and completely dry an entire king-size comforter and bedding in one load and get it done up to 35% faster than ever with the Accela-Wash feature.

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