You choose, we deliver
If you are interested in this story, you might be interested in others from The Journal Gazette. Go to www.journalgazette.net/newsletter and pick the subjects you care most about. We'll deliver your customized daily news report at 3 a.m. Fort Wayne time, right to your email.

Business

  • Column: Russia sows discord in wheat market
    Wheat prices rose to the highest level in three weeks, with September wheat touching $5.62 per bushel on Friday. Longer-term, even with a worsening conflict in Eastern Europe, many analysts expect the global supply to be ample, which could prevent a
  • Tire factory to hire 60 workers
    BFGoodrich Tire Manufacturing is beefing up its Woodburn workforce. The company is working with WorkOne Northeast to fill up to 60 production positions.
  • Denny’s pops the cork on its first Manhattan diner
    Denny’s is popping the cork on its first Manhattan location.
Advertisement
Locally
The J.C. Penney store at Glenbrook Square in Fort Wayne also got the shops-within-stores treatment with four new brands in the home area, a manager said Friday.
Besides the Michael Graves and Jonathan Adler lines, Bodum and a Martha Stewart’s Celebrations officially opened Friday. Bodum offers kitchenware merchandise and Celebrations has party-type goods, including paper puffs, streamers, paper plates, napkins, wrapping paper, invitations and stationery, gift bags and related items.
The Fort Wayne Penney store expects to add more brands through May.
– Paul Wyche, The Journal Gazette
Associated Press
J.C. Penney introduced its Jonathan Adler section, seen here, in some of its department stores Friday, including Fort Wayne, as part of its shops-within-stores revamp.

Penney touts boutiques in home-area makeover

Chain betting big on shops-within-stores

– J.C. Penney is honing in on its home department as part of a bigger plan to turn its stores into mini-malls of sorts.

The struggling department-store chain is unveiling revamped home areas within its stores that feature 20 boutiques that highlight 50 new brands. The areas will include an eclectic mix of items, from $60 Michael Graves’ stainless steel teakettles to $1,850 Jonathan Adler “Happy Chic” sofas.

The home areas, which Penney began to roll out Friday at 500 of its 1,100 stores, will test CEO Ron Johnson’s plan to open separate shops-within-stores for popular designers. The format, which gives department stores more of a mini-mall feel, have been popular at higher-end rivals like Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s for years.

Penney, which already has debuted mini shops-within-stores for popular clothing designers like Joe Fresh, hopes the new home areas will help it woo back shoppers.

The chain is struggling to rebound its business after losing a quarter of its revenue and amassing nearly $1 billion in losses in the past year since it began tweaking everything from its pricing to its stores.

The revamp of the home areas presents a big opportunity for the retailer to regain its footing.

While home sections typically are among the least profitable of a department store, they help to drive customers into the store. And demand for home furnishings is rebounding along with the U.S. housing market: Sales of furniture and home decor reached $92.9 billion last year, up 7.8 percent from the low of $86.2 billion in 2009 during the recession, according to spending tracker MasterCard Advisors’ SpendingPulse.

“It’s going to be a struggle, but the home area could generate some momentum,” said Walter Loeb, a retail consultant.

But Penney, based in Plano, Texas, has its work cut out for it. Penney was planning to anchor its home areas with the Martha Stewart lifestyle brand. But the company is fighting in court with Macy’s over whether Macy’s has exclusive rights to sell certain Martha Stewart products like bedding, cookware and bath items.

Adding to that, Penney’s home business has lost considerable cache from its heyday. The business once accounted for nearly 20 percent of Penney’s total store sales, but that number has dropped to 12 percent as the assortments have failed to attract the younger customers who update their homes more often than their older counterparts. Penney says that its home department, which had attracted an average age of 45, has the oldest shopper compared with rivals like Target Corp. and Macy’s.

Penney executives say the new sections will appeal to a broader group of customers. About 70 percent of the merchandise in the new home area will be new or retooled brands. To make room for the new labels, Penney got rid of long-standing names, including traditional home furnishing brand Chris Madden.

Advertisement