Holiday sales fail to turn around slump at Penney’s - Your West Valley News: Business

Holiday sales fail to turn around slump at Penney’s

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Posted: Thursday, February 28, 2013 11:42 am

NEW YORK (AP) — Boy, it just wasn’t J.C. Penney’s year.

The mid-priced department store chain reported another much larger-than-expected loss in the fiscal fourth quarter on a nearly 30 percent plunge in revenue in the latest sign that shoppers aren’t happy with the changes it’s made in the past year.

The results mark a full year of massive quarterly losses and revenue declines that miss Wall Street estimates since J.C. Penney Co. began a turnaround strategy that included ditching coupons and most of its sales events in favor of everyday low prices, bringing in hipper designer brands such as Betsy Johnson and remaking outdated stores.

The quarterly performance puts additional pressure on CEO Ron Johnson, the former Apple Inc. executive who was brought in a little more than a year ago to turn around the stodgy retailer that was losing money into a hip and profitable company that can compete with the likes of Macy’s or H&M. In the past year since Johnson rolled out his plan, though, even once loyal customers have strayed away from the 1,100-store chain.

While acknowledging that Penney made some mistakes during a conference call with investors, Johnson said on Wednesday that Penney will start offering sales in stores every week — about 100 of the 600 or so the chain offered each year prior to the turnaround plan. That’s a step up in pace from the company’s plan announced last month that it would start offering sales only during holidays and other key shopping periods throughout the year.

Penney’s results for the full year reveal just how much the company is struggling to shore up its business. For the fiscal year, Penney lost $985 million, or $4.49 per share, compared with a loss of $152 million, or 70 cents per share, in the year ended Jan. 28, 2012. And the company’s revenue fell nearly a quarter, or 24.8 percent, to $12.98 billion from the previous year’s $17.26 billion.

“It’s the worst performance I have ever seen by a company in one year,” said Walter Loeb, an independent retail consultant.

Teresa Cansell is one of those customers. She used to make the 45-mile trek from her farm near Leon, Kan., to a Penney store in Wichita about once a month. But since Penney started making changes last year, she’s only been twice. And on her latest trip in December, she walked out empty handed because she couldn’t find a leather jacket she wanted.

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