A number of J.C. Penney (NYSE:JCP) stores are getting a fresh start. Make that a Joe Fresh start.
On Friday, the struggling department store chain opened Joe Fresh boutiques within 683 of its stores nationwide. Joe Fresh, owned by Loblaw Companies (PINK:LBLCF), sells trendy, but discount-priced clothes. The brand is very popular in Canada, but is virtually unknown in the U.S., the Toronto Star notes.
Joe Fresh boutiques at J.C. Penney stores will specialize in women’s clothing, at least at first. The stores-within-a-store will offer between 1,000 and 2,500 square-feet of retail space. Joe Fresh already has its own online storefront on J.C. Penney’s online store and has outsold other designer brand names there.
The effort to launch boutique shops for popular brands within J.C. Penney stores is the latest effort by CEO Ron Johnson to jump-start sales and turn the foundering retailer around.
Johnson has come under withering criticism for ditching J.C. Penney’s traditional focus on sales and discounts, a move the bombed with consumers. In the most recent quarter, the chain saw year-over-year sales plunge 25%.
In the face of tumbling sales, J.C. Penney has resumed promoting sales and discounts.
J.C. Penney isn’t the only retailer testing the idea of putting mini-shops inside its stores. Struggling electronics retailer Best Buy (NYSE:BBY) is launching high-end kitchen shops within a number of its big box stores this year.
Shares of J.C. Penney rose fractionally in Friday trading.