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JCP Home Makeover Launches to Fanfare

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JCP launched a revamped home section yesterday with a party at its midtown Manhattan store. The source of inspiration for the new concept might seem strange to some readers – ousted CEO Ron Johnson.

The new home section brings together designers Michael Graves, Jonathan Adler, Conran, and the queen of home, Martha Stewart, to offer a slimmed down mid-century modern feel. Color accents are provided by Pantone. Some of the offerings may be a bit pricey for JCP’s middle American audience. Graves’ signature sofa, the Crescent Heights, starts at $2,895. Still, returning CEO Mike Ullman is taking full advantage of discounting, and the sofa is on sale for just $1,735, or just under half the average monthly pre-tax income in the United States.

For shoppers who are scared to spend that much on a tasseled, tufted sofa, pillows and bedding are available at standard JCP prices. Bodum is offering sleek glassware and tea and coffee sets, and Michael Graves also designed a coffee pot and toaster. The toaster is in the shape of a loaf of bread and is made of brushed steel.

In one change from Johnson’s plan, the new sections will not be called “shops.” Ullman prefers the term “unique attractions,” according to Liz Sweeney, as quoted in Forbes. Sweeney elaborated that the attractions will feature unique merchandize, much like the Sephora beauty shops, but not all attractions merit a shop concept.

JCP has struggled with home in recent years. It is a category that relies heavily on discounting, so Johnson’s “no discounts” strategy hit it particularly hard. It fell from 18% of sales to approximately 12% this year. Now the company has brought discounts back and is betting that its shoppers will enjoy a more modern aesthetic.

The firm also rolled the goods out quickly. Conran commented that his design team moved from preliminary meetings about the vision for the store to goods on the shelf in less than year. This is because they were connected up with JCP’s existing supplier network who were able to manufacture Conran’s designs.

The goods are also high-quality. The tables are solid oak and the joins are prominent, giving an artisan look to the pieces. Pantone’s bedding and bath designs are lively and exuberant, and Martha Stewart provides party goods. Overall, critics are excited about the new launch. With luck, shoppers will feel the same way.

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