Despite some sales gains, J.C. Penney reported a $1.4 billion loss in 2013, topping the $985 million loss it posted in 2012.
Even so, the struggling department store—which recently announced it would shut 33 stores—did have plenty of good news to report, with fourth quarter comps rising 2 percent over last year and holiday sales up 3.1 percent over last year. The company cited “women’s accessories” as among its best-selling categories in the final quarter.
The company also reported a fourth quarter profit of $35 million, compared to a $552 million loss the prior year. That number beat analyst expectations, and the company’s stock rose following the announcement. The company also ended the year with more than $2 billion in liquidity and generated positive free cash flow of $246 million in the fourth quarter.
On a conference call following the release of its financial results, CEO Myron E. Ullman said that he and his team have “rebuilt J.C. Penney from the inside out.”
“We brought back key item basics and popular private brands that customers wanted, while editing out unproductive brands that weren’t resonating,” he said. “We still have more work to do, but we are pleased with how quickly the business came around with just these few strategic adjustments.”
Among the brands the company plans to eliminate are JCP Men’s, Stafford Prep, JOE by Joseph Abboud, William Rast, Joe Fresh Kids, and JCP Everyday. Running clearance sales on those brands hurt margins for the quarter, he said.
Ullman admitted the department store was “still completing [its] turnaround” but declared the business has been stabilized, and “the most challenging and expensive parts of the turnaround are behind us.” He expects comps to increase 3 to 5 percent in the coming year.