By  on January 8, 2013

Ron Johnson, J.C. Penney Co. Inc.’s chairman and chief executive officer, has a New Year’s resolution: Penney’s in 2013 will become “a happening place.”

“When we start changing the menu, the store is going to happen,” Johnson said, referring to the new lineup of brands coming to Penney’s selling floors this spring, which includes Martha Stewart, Joe Fresh, Marchesa, Jonathan Adler and Michael Graves.

“In the age of the Internet, if a store can’t be a happening, if a store doesn’t deliver magic, a great experience, it is going to have trouble surviving,” Johnson said. “It’s incredible. If you walk into most stores, particularly department stores which are 10 to 20 years old, they’re maintained but haven’t been rethought.”

Since taking the reins of the 110-year-old, $15 billion Penney’s, Johnson has been leading a daring overhaul — resculpting its prosaic selling floors into a “specialty department store” with ultimately 100 individual specialty shops within the box, adding better brands to modernize the mix while culling out the losers and developing an Apple-influenced layout that’s cleaner and easier to navigate, with high-tech advancements for service as well as amenities such as coffee stops and gelato stands.

 

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