JCPenney parent company Simon Property Group has entered a deal with Authentic Brands Group (ABG) to add products from some of the company’s recent acquisitions, including Forever 21 and Juicy Couture, to JCPenney’s merchandise assortment, according to CNBC. The move, which will include products sold both in-store and online, is part of an effort to rebuild JCPenney in 2021 as the basis for returning to solid growth in 2022.
JCPenney as a whole will focus on certain categories in coming months, interim CEO Stanley Shashoua told CNBC. The brands added by the ABG partnership will complement the new emphasis on home goods, men’s merchandise in big-and-tall sizes, women’s merchandise in inclusive size ranges and baby and kid gear.
Shashoua also is Chief Investment Officer at Simon, which acquired Forever 21 in partnership with Brookfield Property Partners and ABG in February 2020. Simon’s recent retail deals have often involved collaboration with ABG, including the acquisition of Lucky Brand in July 2020, which makes sharing some labels a natural fit.
Other parts of JCPenney’s turnaround plan include putting a greater emphasis on private label in the apparel and home categories and scaling back contracts with vendors. Shashoua also expects ecommerce, which now accounts for 20% of sales, to play a larger role moving forward.
JCPenney has been experiencing growth in home goods and athletic apparel in recent weeks, as well as an uptick in shoppers looking for Easter dresses and other formal wear. While it remains to be seen whether the retailer can mount a true comeback, no additional store closures are planned for the time being.
“JCPenney is a great American family destination, and our strength is in our storied brands and the services we provide,” said Shashoua in an interview with CNBC. “We’re seeing week-over-week improvements in the business, and we’re increasingly optimistic as we work our way through this.”
The retailer also is still on the hunt for a permanent CEO. The search has garnered “a lot of interest from a lot of very high-quality, highly qualified people,” according to Shashoua.