JC Penney Reinventing Itself in Apple’s Image?

JC Penney (NYSE:JCP) has announced that it is undergoing a major makeover. A new series of advertising that will detail some of the changes will launch on February 1. The changes come under the leadership of JC Penney’s new CEO Ron Johnson, formerly of Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), and President Michael Francis, formerly of Target (NYSE:TGT).

The new face of JC Penney will include a new logo, simpler pricing and an end to the non-stop promotions and sales. The New York Times quoted Johnson, who said, “We want to be the favorite store for everyone, for all Americans rich and poor, young and old. This isn’t your favorite department store. Our ambitions are much higher. We want to be your favorite store.”

The changes come in response to years of poor performance. The New York Times quoted Barclays Capital analyst Robert Drbul who stated in a note to client that from 2006 to 2011, “J.C. Penney has had the worst performance among peers.” The company’s new pricing structure will adhere to three tiers; regular prices, month-long special prices, and clearance prices. Johnson said that previously 72% of sales at JC Penney were from merchandise that was marked down 50% or more.

The department store is also using star power to attract attention. The company has announced Ellen Degeneres as its new spokesperson. JC Penney will debut a new logo and a new designer partnership with Nanette Lepore. The new CEO also says he will create “town squares” in the middle of each store, similar to Apple’s Genius Bar.