JCP: Not Ready For Primetime

JCP: Not Ready For Primetime - JCP concept5

Despite the hype surrounding the new JCPenney (JCP) stores due to rollout this year into 2013, we remain bearish on the stock, a call that we’ve stuck with for about a year now. Ron Johnson and executive management continue to fail to execute on their turnaround plan which has helped the stock fall from $40 a share to $20 a share in under a year.

JCP proudly announced the unveiling of its new store concepts yesterday in a release, showcasing the mini-stores for the Levi’s and Arizona brands. While the video they produced was entertaining, showing off their concept of a “denim bar,” the Hedgeye Retail team begs to differ noting that there are noticeable hiccups in the rollout.

The team checked out a JCP store yesterday and instead of a hip, modern concept, found a half-completed store that resembled a warehouse more than anything. The Arizona stores were not ready due to a late shipment of wallpaper and the entire store had construction going on for other mini-stores that gave the store an unsightly appearance.

Here are the takeaways from our team, along with some choice photos below:

• The women’s Levi shop is already open although there we no i-pads in sight. This could simply be a store that did not receive the full blown Levi “store” however notable given the “denim bar” innovation.

• The Arizona shops (both men’s and women’s) will not be opening on time despite having been scheduled to open with the Levi shop due to wallpaper arriving late. The images below show a view into the women’s shop which has no décor as well as the men’s shop which is just to the right of the store’s entrance; neither is complete.

• The overall atmosphere of the store has a warehouse feel despite the areas under construction being concealed. Interestingly, with 2-4% of the location’s selling square footage remaining under construction over the next 2 years, there were concealed areas with no work complete inside. Our sense is this area is sectioned off for the September shops but we found this interesting nonetheless given the amount of the store already under construction.

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