Boston, MA 03/11/2014 (wallstreetpr) – J.C. Penney Company, Inc. (NYSE:JCP) has certainly been around for long enough to have seen variations in its own economic fortunes as well as the economic cycles of growth and decline of the American economy.
Will Penney Survive
Sandwiched between big-box retailers like Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT), The Kroger Co. (NYSE:KR), and Target Corporation (NYSE:TGT) on the one hand and online retail behemoths like Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) on the other means that Penney has to face up to an existential question: Will JC Penney survive into the next decade of the 21st century?
Many traditional retailers — including Sears Holdings Corp (NASDAQ:SHLD), Barnes & Noble, Inc. (NYSE:BKS) — are witnessing declining fortunes.
Penney was at its height of success in the mid 1970s when it had more than 2,000 stores. Penney has made some right moves at the right times such as opening online stores in 1998, the November 2007 launch of a new website, JCPenneyBrands.com, and the February 2008 launch of the American Living brand developed by Ralph Lauren.
Since 2010, Penney has faced various setbacks including a 2011 expose in The New York Times about Penney’s use of “link schemes” to improve the ranking of the J. C. Penney website. There were multiple firings in recent years including in January 2012 (1,600 employees), and April 2012 13% of its home office staff in Dallas). On April 8, 2013, Ron Johnson, who had been the CEO for 17 months, was fired. In January 2014, 33 stores were closed.
However, Penney might yet be able to avoid the fate of retailers like Borders. It seems to have turned a corner after two years of massive losses according to its latest quarterly results. It reported improved margins for sales and profit for 4Q2013 which included the holiday season. More good news from the company included a 26.3% growth in online sales.
It remains to be seen whether Penney will be able to sustain this positive trend over the next few quarters. If it can, then Penney will truly be back in the game.