J.C. Penney Launches Growth Brands Division
By Tom Ryan
J.C. Penney plans to launch three new businesses. The first two
are online-only businesses: Clad, which will sell designer apparel to males,
25 to 54; and Gifting Grace, focusing on women, 30 to 54. The third, The Foundry
Big & Tall Supply Co., will sell
big and tall clothing for men online and via as many as 300 brick and mortar
stores to be built within five years, if all goes as the company plans.
The new businesses will be
part of a new “Growth Brands Division,” which
will also explore other ventures. These initiatives will be separate from the
core JCPenney brand but will leverage the company’s merchandising, marketing,
product development, sourcing, IT, planning and allocation, and consumer research
Both new apparel websites are in a marketing alliance with Hearst Magazines,
publisher of Esquire, Cosmopolitan, Good
Housekeeping and Marie Claire. Anne Sutherland Fuchs, a former publishing
and digital executive, will become group president, digital ventures of the Growth
Clad “will provide a full assortment of well-curated designer
brands in a savvy digital environment,” according to a statement from
Penney. It is headed by Will Swillie, previously director of brand management
at Retail Convergence, a portfolio of e-commerce companies including Rue La
La, where he launched the men’s business, after spending more than 15
years at top retailers.
Grace will offer “a comprehensive online gifting resource offering
an extensive assortment of unique and memorable gift items, compelling content
and convenient tools for the year-round gift-giver.” Mary Drolet, founder
of Club Libby Lu, will lead Gifting Grace.
The third property, The Foundry Big & Tall Supply Co., will supplement a
selection of national men’s brands with The Foundry Supply Co. private
brand merchandise. According to a company news release, a website will debut
in April 2011, followed by a 10-store initial launch in May. Expanding agressively,
the chain should hit 150 locations by 2013 and 300 within five years.
“Our objective through this new division is to capitalize on our
extraordinary retail expertise to strategically pursue untapped opportunities
to serve key customer segments. Our aim is to generate new revenue streams
consistent with our long range plan mission of being the growth leader in the
retail industry,” said
Penney chairman & CEO Mike Ullman, in a statement.
Pressure to jumpstart
growth has increased in recent months as activist investor William Ackman’s
Pershing Square Capital Management and Vornado Realty Trust recently jointly
amassed a stake of more than 26 percent in Penney.
Discussion Questions: Is J.C. Penney in a good position to launch separate
growth ventures? Of the three businesses being launched, which do you think
holds the most potential for growth?
- J. C. Penney Company, Inc. Launches New Growth Brands Division – J.C.
Penney Company, Inc.
- Under pressure to grow, J.C. Penney will launch three businesses – The
Dallas Morning News
New Growth Brands Division to Launch Specialty Retail Concept Catering
to Men’s Big & Tall Customers – J.C. Penney Company, Inc.