J.C. Penney Expands Sephora Beauty Shops As It Plays Down Apparel

Forbes – J.C. Penney is deepening its commitment to a business that has consistently performed for the department store chain, even during its darkest days.

The retailer will launch Sephora beauty shops in 70 stores as it expands 32 existing locations, bringing Sephoras to 650 of its 1,000-plus stores by the end of 2017.

The beauty push comes as the retailer de-emphasizes apparel, a weak link for merchants these days, save for off-price chains and Amazon, which have been gobbling up clothing market share.

Sephora has been a reliable traffic driver for J.C. Penney, generating higher sales per square foot —a key performance metric for a retailer — than the company average, while drawing coveted younger shoppers to its stores.

“The Sephora brand appeals to the right demographic—18 to 45 year olds—which is a segment J.C. Penney needs to attract: new, younger shoppers that wouldn’t normally shop there,” said Ken Morris, a principal with Boston Retail Partners, in a RetailWire online forum.

In keeping with J.C. Penney’s recent push to enhance stores by adding services, from bathroom remodeling to blind installation, new and expanding Sephoras will feature eyebrow grooming Benefit Brow Bars, as the retailer hires an additional 800 beauty consultants nationwide.

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