(from the upper right corner) What makes Dad so cool? He's the swim coach, tent maker, best friend, bike fixer and hug giver--all rolled into one. Or two.
Does anyone know if they sell Calvin Klein underwear at JC Penney? I’ll be doing some shopping there from now on.
If you support the gay community, please shop J.C. Penney.
Ron Johnson, the department-store chain's new chief executive, is portraying alternative lifestyles as a wholesome part of American consumer culture. He has hired Ellen DeGeneres as a spokeswoman and printed catalogs with smiling gay parents and their adorable children.
Diversity, inclusion, acceptance for all—these are laudable values. The problem is, well, I have never actually met an openly gay person who openly shops at J.C. Penney.
Nevertheless, Mr. Johnson is inspiring boycotts from some of the straight people who are more likely to shop in his stores.
One Million Moms, an offshoot of the conservative American Family Association, is particularly upset about a Father's Day promotion featuring two gay dads. The ad read: "First Pals: What makes Dad so cool? He's the swim coach, tent maker, best friend, bike fixer and hug giver—all rolled into one. Or two."
Seems like lame ad copy to me. Yet this is the kind of material One Million Moms routinely denounces as "trash in the media!"
It's fair to say One Million Moms hardly represents a million moms, and if it did, many of their children would be gay, according to the law of large numbers. But it's also fair to say this organization, though often branded as antigay, is expressing a sentiment common among the middlebrow demographic that J.C. Penney serves.
Mr. Johnson is alienating Penney's traditional customers in a bid to attract new customers from higher socio-economic segments that now shop Macy's, Nordstrom and Target.
Marketing to gays is but one example of the many ways Mr. Johnson is doing this. Earlier this year, he started putting an end to coupons and the word "sale" in a bid to change Penney's pricing structure.
The result? Larger-than-expected losses, plunging revenues, dwindling customer traffic and a plunging stock price.
It's more proof that the more you pay a CEO, the more overconfident he becomes. Mr. Johnson, a lauded former Apple executive, didn't begin as Penney's so-called turnaround artist until November. That didn't stop the company from paying him $52.6 million for 2011, most of it in stock awards. Compare that to America's median household income of less than $53,000 a year. Any wonder he doesn't see the need for coupons or sales?
This is starting to look like the turnaround at Sears-Kmart, and it could end up looking like the turnaround at Montgomery Ward. In a webcast conference last week, Mr. Johnson conceded he did a poor job communicating his pricing strategy. He even started to resurrect the term he'd tried to banish, "sale." But he can't change course.
See, before Mr. Johnson came along, Penney's was in a race to the bottom. Nobody would buy anything unless it was 60% off. And now Penney's faces a stalling economic recovery that threatens to crush even more of its middle-class consumers.
Mr. Johnson promises a "year of transformation," after which we'll compare Penney's to Apple, Starbucks, Whole Foods and other companies where value isn't determined by price but by perceived coolness. This is a tall order. J.C. Penney, incorporated in 1913, occupies a class of stodgy retailers that tend to run themselves out of business every hundred years or so.
Mr. Johnson pleaded for patience: "We believe there will be one year of sales going down that sets the stage for a year of takeoff."
So welcome to Penney's "one year of sales going down." Please go shop there before there's two.
The company that was known for massive markdowns on top of markdowns backed away from its price-slashing ways when Ron Johnson took the helm. Its newly minted "fair and square" pricing strategy was expected to usher in a new retail era, but things haven't played out that way so far. The company realized abysmal same-store sales recently and has fallen off a cliff on ever-worsening reports. Now the company appears to be going back on its original plan and will be implementing more Friday sales days across the calendar year. For all the big backing and enthusiasm surrounding J.C. Penney's turnaround, this backtracking isn't encouraging
A pillar of Mr Johnson’s turnround plan is a new pricing strategy that does away with unpredictable discounts and has echoes of the simple product pricing at Apple, where he built its retail business.
But this month he admitted: “We haven’t communicated our pricing change in a way that customers understand yet, and I think it’s just been kind of confusing.”
Mr Johnson will assume direct responsibility for the marketing and merchandising operations that Mr Francis oversaw, which included an expensive blitz of colourful television advertisements that left some consumers nonplussed.
In the quarter when JC Penney launched its new pricing and marketing plans – the three months to the end of April – its like-for-like sales tumbled 18.9 per cent, the sharpest decline at a big retailer that many sector experts could remember.
Mr Loeb said JC Penney’s new management had misunderstood its customers. “It’s a value-conscious customer who responds to sales not to pretty pictures,” he said
In separate comments yesterday, Johnson blamed plunging sales and dwindling customer traffic on marketing that “has not resonated with our core customer” — and said he would therefore take over marketing himself.
“The marketing I largely left to [Francis],” Johnson told trade paper Women’s Wear Daily. “The fact that it hasn’t resonated [meant] I had to get involved.”
While critics say Francis’ sharp, colorful Target-like ads failed to convey a low-price message, sources said another rumored point of friction between the two execs was a Father’s Day ad that depicted a child with gay fathers.
“That may not have resonated with the core customer,” according to one source.
Read more: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/business/penney_doing_damage_control_Y6K5wwYQ8IThlqlgOK4gJO#ixzz1yJTdwDpK
Truth be told, I love a good turnaround story. I love seeing a company that everyone has left for dead turn in positive results that surprise even the “smartest investors.” However, there is such a thing as too little too late. I honestly believe that is the situation with J.C. Penney Co. (NYSE: JCP).
When the initial hoopla from the hiring of CEO Ron Johnson came out, I was immediately skeptical of the pop in the shares. The issue was not his management capabilities, but the public's perception of the company. I would wager if you ask most people in America about J.C. Penney, their first reaction is not likely a positive one. This company has massive problems that no CEO is going to be able to solve in a short time frame, if at all.
The issues that J.C. Penney is facing are too numerous to cover in this format. However, we'll look at a few issues and see where the company places among their competition. J.C. Penney has been a cornerstone of many enclosed malls for years. Some people might even have fond memories of flipping through the old Christmas catalog and earmarking pages of things that they wanted. However, that is not the day we live in today. The catalog has long been replaced by the Internet, and there are many customers who don't even think of J.C. Penney as a shopping destination. This is the primary issue that the company faces -- their competition represents destination shopping experiences, whereas J.C. Penney doesn't register in most customers thoughts. Let me give you a few examples of other retailers that have positioned themselves better.
The first example is Kohl's (NYSE: KSS), which primarily operates as a destination for mid-priced fashion merchandise. The company has done a good job of mixing reasonable pricing, excellent sales, and their Kohl's cash as a way to drive continued business. Though not a traditional fashion retailer, Target Corp. (NYSE: TGT) is also a direct competitor for J.C. Penney's customer. Customers that used to go into J.C. Penney to purchase clothing now can buy their groceries, household items, and clothing all the same time from Target. Given the fact that the company has increased awareness of their value-priced clothing brands, many shoppers regularly check the store for their wardrobe needs. Operating at the higher end of the spectrum is Macy's (NYSE: M). Where this competitor stands out is offering a greater selection of high-quality items, so shoppers are willing to spend a little more for better merchandise.
You can see that between these three competitors, Target takes the low-end, Kohl's takes the mid-priced customer, and Macy's takes the high-end customer. While this doesn't represent all of J.C. Penney's competition, you can see there isn't a category of consumer that the company can attract that isn't already being catered to by another strong retailer. It is no longer a question of getting new customers for J.C. Penney, it is a question of stealing loyal shoppers from retailers that they are already happy with. As proof that the challenge J.C. Penney is facing will not be simple to overcome, one only needs to look at the company's most recent earnings report.
This is one of the few earnings reports that I've seen where there really was not one number I could find that painted a positive picture of the company. With total sales down 20.1% and a loss of $.25 per share, this was just the beginning of the painful numbers for investors. The two most discouraging numbers have to be comparable store sales and Internet sales. With comparable sales down 18.9% and Internet sales down 27.9%, the company is selling less to customers in the store and online. Even with struggling retailers, usually one of these two measures comes out positive. In addition, the company had to cut its gross margin to get these results, with gross margin coming in almost 3% below last year's number.
The company's financials paint just as bleak of a picture. J.C. Penney spent nearly 50% of their cash and cash equivalents covering their negative cash flow for the quarter. Operating cash flow started at negative $577 million and the company spent another $107 million on capital expenditures. The combination of these two numbers caused cash and cash equivalents to drop to $839 million. With long-term debt staying flat at $2.871 billion, this retailer has a much weaker balance sheet than just three months ago. The company discontinued its dividend, which is expected to save about $175 million. However, according to the report, additional inventory markdowns and restructuring charges may be necessary. Amazingly, the company made the comment that they are, “confident in our vision to become America's favorite store.” While it's good to hear management express confidence in the company's future, this statement rings very hollow to me.
The bottom line is J.C. Penney does not have a competitive advantage over any of their competition. That alone is the reason to stay away from the stock. In fact, any of the previously mentioned competitors seem like a better option. Kohl's pays a 2.6% yield, is selling for less than its expected growth rate, and has beaten earnings in three of the last four quarters.
Macy's would seem to be a good option as well. This company pays a 2.2% yield, sells for less than its expected growth rate, and has been beating earnings estimates on a regular basis.
Where Target is concerned, while there's been a lot of commentary on the challenges that the retailer faces from Amazon.com, many of these issues are overblown. The company offers value-priced fashion that is not practical to buy online, is expanding their grocery and household items selection, and is a one-stop shop for many Americans. With a 2.3% yield and expected earnings growth of just over 11%, the company is yet another retail stock that looks better than J.C. Penney.
While it's admirable that J.C. Penney management believes in the concept, it's too little too late
If such is the case, why do you give a ****?
At the time, Johnson stressed that Penney's needed to wean shoppers off their addiction to sales and coupons.
He then spoke aloud retail's dirty little open secret: A number of those big sales are not really sales at all, he said, because many stores have been putting increasingly inflated "full" retail prices on their goods in recent years.
So Johnson's radical makeover of the chain not only pulled the plug on Penney's sales, but also dropped the word "sale" from its stores and marketing messages, as well as "clearance," ditching language that has been shorthand for American shoppers for nearly as long as there have been stores.
But Johnson's push to sell shoppers on its idea that the chain is a destination for everyday deals with a new lexicon, such as "month long value" and "best price," which were intended to communicate bargains, has so far flopped.
And Penney's has been backpedaling ever since