JCPenney to play offense after gains in Q1

JCPenney's (NYSE:JCP) CEO Mike Ullman announced that the retailer is switching gears this year "from defense to offense." In a quarterly conference call with shareholders, Ullman said that the department store will focus on taking back market share and restoring profitability to the business.

The retailer is off to a good start, with same-store sales up 3.4 percent for the first quarter, reported Seeking Alpha. Although not as strong as last year's 7.4 percent same-store growth during Q1, Ullman said the numbers reflect "the momentum that we carried into 2015 from the successful execution of our turnaround initiatives in 2013 and 2014."

The top earners for JCPenney this quarter were women's and men's apparel, Home, and Sephora. Home's new catalog was launched in March and already the resurrected publication has helped accelerate the growth of online business.

Earlier this week JCPenney announced an expansion of its collaboration with Sephora, to add 25 new shops-within-shops. Sephora will continue to be a part of JCPenney's long-term growth strategy.

In fact, Marvin Ellison, president and CEO designee, announced that Sephora products will begin to be sold directly on the JCPenney website later this month.

Ellison also spoke about the improvement of the retailer's online assortment, navigation and inventory levels. He said the company would continue to develop its omnichannel capabilities as more and more customers are choosing to buy online and pick up in-store.

"This results in more trips and add-on purchases when they visit a store to pick up the order," Ellison said. "And on average, a buy online ship-to-store customer will purchase additional merchandise 20 percent of the time when they visit the store."

In fact, omnichannel customers shop 2.5 times more often than a traditional brick-and-mortar customer.

Moving forward, the retailer plans to reset the shoe department, which includes an expansion in square footage and offerings. JCPenney will also improve the ability to cross-sell in the physical store environment. The retailer plans to continue its focus on Home, which remains one of the biggest growth opportunities.

For more:
-See this Seeking Alpha transcript

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