- JCPenney opened a new concept store in Hurst, Texas, this month, which will function as an experimental “lab” to help assist the company’s ambitious turnaround plan, according to CEO Jill Soltau.
- The store includes new features like personal styling, instructor-led fitness classes, and a barbershop, among other services.
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As JCPenney continues to fight its way to a turnaround, its recently opened concept store has become the embodiment of the struggling, 117-year-old retailer’s reinvention strategy.
The store — which opened on November 1 in Hurst, Texas, just outside of Dallas — includes several new features informed directly by customer surveys and data collection conducted by JCPenney over the last year. On a call with investors on Friday, CEO Jill Soltau said the store is intended to function as a “lab” for the company, where it can test new business strategies and see what sticks.
“I want to be clear that the brand-defining store is an investment in the future. It is not a prototype to roll out across all our stores and it is not a flagship store,” Soltau said on the call. “There are over 100 touchpoints that will inform future actions as part of our future strategy, all focused on putting the customer at the heart of what we do.”
Though the success of the store remains to be seen, it’s been a much-needed bright spot for the beleaguered brand, which has struggled significantly in recent years. The third quarter of 2019 was no exception, as comparable sales decreased by 9.3%, driven in part by the consolidation of inventory and elimination of low-performing categories.
However, JCPenney showed promise in its ability to cut back operating losses and ultimately boost its profit forecast. Though an operating deficit of $97 million is certainly not indicative of a thriving brand, it’s a significant improvement over the $300 million loss the company reported in the same period last year
For JCPenney, the Texas concept store — with its personal styling services, on-site barbershop, and instructor-led fitness classes — may not be a prototype, but it could help JCPenney find the way to a more prosperous future.
Here’s what it’s like inside.