Top officials from J.C. Penney Co. Inc. are sensing improving consumer trends, and at the retailer’s analysts and investors’ meeting in New York on Wednesday, they went public with their limited optimism. “We are not seeing a wild or crazy shift, but there’s been a slight uptick,” said Myron E. “Mike” Ullman 3rd, Penney’s chairman and chief executive officer.
Ullman and others cited a “stabilization” in sales patterns; increasing “visibility” or ability to project and plan; better sell-throughs on promotional merchandise requiring less clearance in the weeks ahead, and gains in the home business due to the industry shakeout and a pickup in house sales.
With signs of improvement, Penney’s revised for the second time its first-quarter earnings per share guidance to flat or slightly positive. Initially, the company was projecting a loss of 20 to 30 cents, and about two weeks ago revised it again to a loss of 5 to 10 cents.
“I never thought flat to slightly positive would look so good,” said Bob Cavanaugh, executive vice president and chief financial officer. “There clearly is a stabilization day-to-day that gives us a lot more confidence.”
Major spring clearances are expected to break in a matter of weeks, but not with the intensity and depth of last fall’s frenzy, because retail inventories are more in line across the industry. “We will see more of the traditional promotions,” said Ken Hicks, Penney’s president and chief merchandising officer.
Ullman said Penney’s is currently demonstrating “one of the best women’s apparel trends in the industry,” with dresses a top-performing category.
Elizabeth Sweney, executive vice president and general merchandise manager, said the company is working harder to “talk to customers about trend and style with great price reassurance” through such strategies as its Little Red Book, a new spring catalogue, and an interactive online runway video. She also cited the recent introduction of exclusive women’s collections I [Heart] Ronson, Allen B., as well as a.n.a. and Bisou Bisou.
Such collections have enabled Penney’s to take market share from key competitors in certain sectors, and the company is continuing with the launch of exclusive brands. In men’s wear, the executives have high hopes for the Joe Joseph Abboud line of sportswear, tailored clothing and furnishings, which will hit stores in September. The line will be exclusive to Penney’s beginning this fall. Currently, the collection is sold in fewer than 50 department store doors, including Macy’s.
Steve Lawrence, executive vice president and general merchandise manager of men’s for Penney’s, acknowledged hits and misses in American Living, which is adjusting prices downward on certain items.
Three new young men’s brands for back-to-school — RS by Sheckler, Rusty and Third Rail, a Zoo York Production — will be introduced.
“In tough economic times,” Lawrence said, “we gravitate toward offering value as well as newness. We’re trying to get on the offensive and make bold moves.”
Ullman surprised some of the analysts by alluding to the possibility of acquisitions, saying the company is “not averse to buying something if it’s a better format than building something.…It is quite clear that there is a lot of runway available to us with our existing concept. There is a lot of opportunity for in-fill in markets where we are not represented.”
@chanel and @pharrell dropped what’s being dubbed as the world’s most exclusive sneakers yesterday. The Adidas Originals NMD Hu, which Williams designed in collaboration with Chanel and @adidasoriginals, has a waiting list of over 120K people who pre-registered online at chanelatcolette.fr –– and only 500 pairs are on sale. The singer predicted the resale value of the shoes could reach $40K. Read the full interview on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdfashion
@imanshumpert is diving deeper into his creative endeavors and relaunching his clothing line, Post 90s, and is helping to raise money for the hurricane victims in St. Maarten with a jersey he’s designed with his brother. The Cleveland Cavaliers player talked to WWD about kneeling during the national anthem, working with fashion brands and how he wants to be more than an @nba player. Read the interview on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: George Chinese)
Not only does #TheProfit return to CNBC tonight, but @marcuslemonis has launched @shopmarcus, a new shopping and lifestyle retail experience in Aspen and Chicago, with more locations to come. The retail stores offer in-store stylists and a variety of contemporary womenswear selections.
“It’s life, I’m going to face it,” @mingxi11 sighed. “I fell, but you know, I think the most important thing is that I get back up. I had the love, the help from my sister — the girl next to me Gizele [Oliveira] — she’s so nice. When I went backstage everybody was trying to comfort me like ‘Oh Ming, it’s OK.’ I’m really, really touched. I think it’s them who gave me the courage to go back on stage for the finale,” Xi told WWD of her fall at the @victoriassecret fashion show. (📷: David Fisher) #wwdfashion #vsfashionshow #victoriassecret
@louisvuitton tapped @therealpeterlindbergh for its latest city-centric photo book, which is part of a series called Fashion Eye. The primarily black and white book captures the spirit of Berlin in 57 images shot between 1989 and 2019. “Berlin is an inspiration for me, more than a city. I mean @millajovovich is simply Berlin!” said Lindbergh. #wwdfashion
“You know, I think audiences expect a certain performance so I have to deliver to them what they’re expecting to a certain degree. But I’m also a different actor and a different person, I have my own spin on the character,” says @noahegalvin of his takeover of the leading role in “Dear Evan Hansen” following the departure of @bensplatt, who originated the role. Read WWD’s interview with the 23-year-old actor on WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: @jilliansollazzo)
For pre-fall 2018, @etro created richly-colored wonderland, using tapestries, textiles and wallpapers from the Eastern world at large. The line featured floral and graphic prints and jacquard motifs, like this two-piece look featured here. #wwdfashion (📷: Giovanna Pavesi)
@kith is moving into children’s. The men’s and women’s streetwear brand has launched Kidset, a Kith kids line located in New York at 64 Bleecker Street. The line includes mini versions of staple Kith pieces like the Astor bomber jacket and the Kith box logo sweatshirts, along with a wall that can display up to 120 pairs of shoes from @adidas, @newbalance, @timberland and more. #wwdfashion
“I just wanted to create this fully rounded character, but I do think what excited me most was just the opportunity to give a group of people representation that I feel needs it. I like to do characters in projects that stand for something and Karolina definitely does, so that was really exciting to me,” @ginnygardner says of her new role in @hulu’s “The Runaways.” Gardner plays Karolina Dean, a queer superhero, which is a rarity for @marvel. Read more about Gardner’s character on WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: @dandoperalski)