JCPenney gambles on Brooklyn store

JCPenney (NYSE:JCP) has been busy getting smaller, shutting down 33 underperforming stores across the country. However, it's now investing in one new store in Brooklyn, New York, with the hopes of boosting its turnaround efforts.

The store opens Aug. 29 and will mark the retailer's first location in the borough, its final frontier in New York to augment the existing JCPenney stores in Manhattan, The Bronx, Queens and Staten Island. The new store will be part of the Gateway Center mall, so despite Brooklyn's hipster reputation, the chain won't be entirely out of its element alongside other big retailers such as Target, The Home Depot and Old Navy.

The old dog will have a few new tricks, though. The 124,000 sq.-ft. store has one story and features an eco-friendly design with efficient rooftop heating and cooling, double insulation, LED lighting and motion sensors to dim lights throughout the building that are projected to consume nearly half the energy of a usual JCPenney location.

Forbes' Walter Loeb visited the store before its opening and was impressed by its layout and design, which put an emphasis on brand identification, as well as the focus on friendly customer service.

"While JCPenney is opening only one store this year and sprucing up older stores as it completes the difficult turnaround from the Ron Johnson days, I believe this store will be a prototype for future stores," Loeb said. "It is small enough to be completed in one year and efficient enough to be profitable very quickly."

JCPenney is hoping the new location can be one of its most productive stores, and Rick Snyder, retail analyst at Maxim Group, thinks the positive performance of the chain's nearby Queens Center mall location augurs well.

But not everyone is convinced that building new stores is the best move for JCPenney at this point in its attempted turnaround. Craig Sterling, an analyst at EVA Dimensions, told Bloomberg that the Brooklyn store is a "terrible decision."

"Their store closings aren't happening fast enough," he said. "JCPenney is the last company that should be spending money on growth."

For more:
-See this Bloomberg story
-See this Forbes story

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