Retail

JCPenney’s CEO Has Tough Road Ahead

JCPenney

In the coming year, the relatively new CEO of JCPenney, Jill Soltau, has much work ahead of her.

Soltau has to stop a stretch of losses and sales declines at the company and prove to investors that it could compete as well as belong in the 2020s, Yahoo Finance reported.

“JCPenney has had a tough run,” said former Saks CEO Stephen Sadove. “They have now got to figure out how to generate some growth. Jill Soltau, I think, is doing a very fine job of going in and trying to remake the merchandise, get back to basics and focus on apparel.”

Sadove also noted the company has to “generate top line growth, and it will be very hard given the amount of debt they have, the amount of depreciation and the requirement to keep a fresh store base.”

As it stands, the third quarter same-store sales of the retailer fell 9.3 percent, which drove a 30 cents per share adjusted loss. At the same time, the retailer’s cash was $147 million coming into the fourth quarter, and total debt was $4 billion.

Soltau has reportedly had two successes as of being hired by the retailer in October of last year. For one, she worked to leave the low-margin home-appliance business and get rid of slow-selling apparel inventory.

She also earned high marks for a new store prototype that debuted at a Texas location at the beginning of November. The store is organized by lifestyle instead of department as is typical with retailers. It has bright lighting and wide aisles, along with a slew of interactive experiences, like beauty workshops and cooking gadget demonstrations.

“In recent years, we veered away from knowing and delivering what customers want,” Soltau said in November. “We won’t make that mistake going forward.”

“What we get out of this store will ultimately fuel a chain refresh,” she added.

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