JCPenney bringing back the print catalog

Department store chain JCPenney (NYSE:JCP) is bringing back its print catalog five years after it stopped production because of a shift in focus to the Web. The company hopes the catalog will attract more customers to the home department.

The original "Big Book" stopped being mailed in 2009 and turned into 70 smaller catalogs mailed out throughout the year, reported CNBC. The new 120-page book will show items from the home department and will mail in March—the first catalog to be sent out since 2010.

The book will mail to between 1 and 3 million customers, out of the 4 to 5 million mailing addresses in the company's customer database, along with additional home-focused direct mailers to complement the larger catalogs, according to analysts at Sterne Agee.

"In our view, discontinuing catalogs in 2011 was a mistake as it contributed heavily to what would ultimately be a decimated home business by 2013. The pure catalog shopper generated $450 million in sales as late as 2010, but JCPenney did not properly consider 'browse in catalog, buy online' purchasing behavior, implying a much greater financial impact," said Sterne Agee analyst, Chuck Grom. "We see this as an opportunity to recapture at least a portion of the half-billion dollar sales lost when JCPenney discontinued catalogs several years back."

It seems JCPenney is returning to some of its roots this year after reversing a non-successful attempt to move upmarket under former CEO Ron Johnson. Johnson's struggles are well documented, and despite the progress made since Mike Ullman's return as CEO, it looks like the retailer isn't out of the woods just yet.

Since the move toward the Web, the company has been forced to close stores and lay off workers. It will close 40 stores in the next year, 4 percent of its 1,060 locations. The company will also cut about 2,250 jobs as it tries to raise profits.

For more:
-See this Business Insider article
-See this CNBC article

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