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JC Penney Expands Sephora Partnership With More Doors, Larger Formats

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Differentiation and a focus on customer experiences are what it takes to stand out in today’s rocky retail landscape, and JC Penney checks both of those elusive boxes with its Sephora shop-in-shops, which launched 10 years ago.

The department store today reiterated plans to deepen its relationship with the beauty chain by adding in-store shops to 70 of its locations and growing the footprint of 32 more by almost 50 percent. The announcement was first made during the company’s earnings call in February. The larger format will include additional products and services, including Benefit Brow Bars. The company will also roll out a feature that allows customers to book custom makeovers in store.

The expansion will create 800 new beauty consultant positions across the country.

“We are also taking an omnichannel approach to shopping Sephora inside JCPenney by strengthening our technology and infrastructure to reach new beauty customers through JCPenney.com,” said Marvin R. Ellison, chairman and CEO of JCPenney. “We’ve launched the ability for customers to purchase Sephora online and pick up their order at a JCPenney store the same day.”

Ellison highlighted Sephora—along with its appliance showrooms and salons—as a key piece of the retailer’s growth strategy, as it trims its fleet to focus on creating better experiences for shoppers in the remaining doors.

Other retailers have taken note of JC Penney’s success with beauty, namely Macy’s, which purchased Sephora competitor Bluemercury in 2015. Since then, the company has ramped up the fleet, adding 24 freestanding locations in FY 2016 for a total of 101. In January, the department store announced plans to launch 50 additional Bluemercury stores (freestanding and shop-in-shops) over the next two years.

While the addition of the multi-brand retailer could give Macy’s a similar boost, Bluemercury is less well known and operates a smaller fleet than Sephora, which has 430 stores in the Americas and more than 500 shops within JC Penney.

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