While JCPenney recently announced plans to close more than 130 stores and offer early retirement to employees to cut its staff, the department store chain also has some good news. It is expanding appliance showrooms to an additional 100 stores for a total of 600, and adding more brands to its offerings.
Appliance sales have apparently been a hit, especially as Sears stores continue to close in malls across the country. The chain’s appliance sales have expanded from a three-state pilot project just over a year ago to 500 stores. Some stores even sell whole-house HVAC systems.
JCPenney got rid of its own appliance sections back in the ’80s, but now sees an opportunity in that business. It’s no coincidence that it’s expanding this business as it has a new CEO who previously worked at Home Depot, now a big appliance-seller.
“Appliances reinforce the ongoing strength of our growth initiative as we pivot our retail strategy towards non-apparel and growing categories,” CEO Marvin Ellison said during a recent conference call with industry analysts, TWICE reports. While JCPenney continues to do okay in apparel, especially with its investment in plus-size clothing, it’s clear to retail-watchers that consumers are fickle and apparel is not a good category of merchandise to depend on.
The continuing decline of Sears is one reason why JCPenney is expanding its appliance program so quickly. While it might seem like a terrible idea to follow a failing retailer into its signature business, the problems at Sears are complex, and Americans still need refrigerators and stoves.
“We share over 400 malls with a struggling retailer that was once dominant in this category and we have some in-house talent that understands this space really well,” Ellison explained during the conference call.