J.C. Penney Hopes to Increase Jewelry Sales as Business Slows

At an Oct. 8 investor presentation, J.C. Penney executives said they hoped to increase its share of the jewelry and watch market, as September saw a slowdown in business.

“We believe that we have one of the strongest fine jewelry offers in the marketplace, largely because of our assortments and our customer service,” said CEO Myron Ullman, according to a Seeking Alpha transcript.

Ullman said that the company’s jewelry strategy under prior CEO Ron Johnson “didn’t resonate” with customers.

 “We returned back to the promotions that she knows and loves,” he said, adding jewelry sales have increased since Penney’s partnership with Modern Bride.

“The consumer sees Modern Bride as a true brand,” he said. “We just recently had an upscale version of Modern Bride, called the Modern Bride Signature collection at somewhat higher price points because the customers were looking for higher price points.” 

The company also introduced an online feature called the Diamond Vault, which lets customers design their jewelry using an assortment of stones with GIA reports. 

“I have to tell you, we’re really encouraged by these early results, and I am especially happy with my new pair of diamond earrings that I custom-made on the Diamond Vault of J.C. Penney,” said executive vice president and chief merchandising officer Elizabeth Sweeney. “You too can do it.”

She noted that the company has piloted watch cases in some of its New York City stores, and so far, “the response has been great.” 

“We also rolled out new tables for fashion watches as well,” she said. “And the volume of watches that we’re selling in this space is unbelievable.”

But the executives provided a fresh indication that the company is not out of the woods yet, with Ullman announcing that the business saw a “slowdown” in September.

We “are currently trending to low single-digit versus a previous guidance of mid single-digits,” he said. “Obviously, the environment remains challenging, and we believe we are not alone in seeing the business slowdown in September.”

JCK News Director