March 13 - Troubled department store retailer J.C. Penney is going back to basics with cheaper products, undoing the upscale makeover of ousted CEO Ron Johnson. Fred Katayama reports.
TV AND WEB RESTRICTIONS~****~ Juicers and blenders have moved into the Martha Stewart and Michael Graves shops at J.C. Penney. The troubled retailer is going back to basics with cheaper products as it relaunches its home goods sections today. Products are now grouped by classification instead of brand. It's a reversal of ousted CEO Ron Johnson's massive upscale makeover that had put branded shops like Michael and Martha within the store. The home business is key because it makes up half of Penney's online sales and it generated a fifth of all sales in the pre-Johnson era. Some analysts like what they see. Citigroup upgraded the stock because it expects the revamped home sections will lift sales. Analyst Oliver Chen, who calls Penney an American comeback story, said: "Customers have responded positively to the changes, with Home up in fourth quarter, and online home sales have been strong." J.C. Penney stock rose at the market open. But it's trading at a fifth of its peak two years ago... a long way to go to get back home.