Nov 12, 2010
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Penney to launch new, separate online brands

Nov 12, 2010

NEW YORK (Reuters) - J.C. Penney Co (JCP.N) has formed a new business unit that will focus on new niche brands as it seeks new sources of revenue beyond its namesake department store chain.

JC Penney

The first two projects of the division, called Growth Brands, will be launched in partnership with Hearst Magazines next summer.

An online menswear store called Clad will target men between 25 and 54 who favor trendier clothes, while e-commerce site Gifting Grace will cater to women between 30 and 54 and feature gift items.

Clad and Gifting Grace will not carry the J.C. Penney brand, but they will be able to tap the company's infrastructure, including product sourcing, and information technology and logistics.

Penney is facing stiff competition from rivals such as Kohl's Corp (KSS.N) and Macy's Inc (M.N) and is under pressure to show Wall Street it can grow.

Hedge fund manager William Ackman's Pershing Square Capital Management and Vornado Realty LP (VNO.N) said in October they had taken a combined 26 percent stake in Penney, prompting the retailer to adopt an anti-takeover "poison pill" soon after.

Earlier this year, Chief Executive Myron Ullman told Wall Street analysts that the company's long-term plan was for total company sales of $23 billion by 2014, up from $18 billion in 2009.

Macy's and Kohl's both forecast strong holiday quarter sales earlier this week. Penney is scheduled to report quarterly earnings on Friday.

Penney shares were up 0.8 percent, or 26 cents, to $32.93 in afternoon trading.

(Reporting by Dhanya Skariachan and Phil Wahba; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn, Matthew Lewis and Steve Orlofsky)

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