OPERATIONS

J.C. Penney to roll out several new brands; open 20,000-sq.-ft. in-store home shop

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — J.C. Penney executives laid out further details of their strategy going forward during the chain’s quarterly conference call with investors. The call followed the release of J.C. Penney’s first quarter results, when it reported a worse-then-expected loss of $163 million, and a 19% drop in same-store sales.

J.C. Penney said it would launch a new private label apparel brand, jcp, for both men and women. The brand is set to debut in August.

In addition, J.C. Penney said it will debut several brands in the fall, including a line for young girls, called Dream Pop by Cynthia R. It also will roll out branded collections from designers Betsey Johnson, Vivienne Tam and Lulu Guiness. J.C. Penney is also looking to expand such brands as Puma and Nike, and rebuild its St. John’s Bay, Worthington and Stafford brands.

In other plans, the retailer in the first half of 2013 will launch a 20,000-sq.-ft. home department, which will be anchored by the Martha Stewart shop, according to Advertising Age. Collections by designers Jonathan Adler and Michael Graves (whose partnership with Target recently ended) will be represented in the new space, the report said.

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OPERATIONS

ARG: Memorial Day sales to be biggest ever; retailers who open early to win big

BY Marianne Wilson

Charleston, S.C. — The number of Americans delaying their shopping to Memorial Day Weekend is at an all-time high, according to findings in two reports by America’s Research Group Surveys. The reports find that shoppers will approach Memorial Day in keeping with a growing trend: holding off on shopping until "big" holiday weekends.

“This used to be an effect that was the private reserve of ‘Black Friday,’” said ARG chairman Britt Beemer. “But beginning with our October Survey, which showed Americans delaying in record numbers, Americans have begun using the ‘hold-it-until-the-holiday’ tactic in a in a much broader and more significant way. Now, for the first time, Memorial Day Weekend is scheduled to be the biggest in our 33-year Survey history.”

According to Beemer, not only are Americans are making a weekend that was once thought of as the ‘start of summer’ into one that is akin to Black Friday — a time to clip coupons, look for sales and shop.

“Shopping levels will exceed 35% compared to 2011,” Beemer said. “Spending levels will depend on the sale offers and the discounts when shoppers get into the stores.”

Retailers who offer early bird specials and open early on Memorial Day—a la Black Friday—will see the best sales and the highest spending levels, the industry consultant said.

“The closer you come to creating ‘’Black Friday’ the better your sales will be,” Beemer explained.

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FINANCE

Hot Topic Q1 beats expectations

BY Staff Writer

City of Industry, Calif. — Hot Topic reported net income in the first fiscal quarter of $3.8 million, compared with a net loss of $7.7 million for the year-ago period. The results include $12.4 million of expenses for the implementation of the strategic business changes and cost reduction plan.

Total sales for the first quarter ended April 28, 2012, increased 6.4% to $171.5 million compared to $161.3 million for the first quarter last year. Same-store sales rose 7.5%.

“Our first quarter sales and earnings increases at both the Hot Topic and Torrid brands exceeded our early expectations. The quarterly results demonstrate the success of our key strategies of returning the Hot Topic brand to its edgy, dark and sexy core, as well as bringing true fashion to the Torrid brand,” said Lisa Harper, chairman and CEO, Hot Topic.

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