The stores will carry an assortment of national men's brands, as well as private-label clothing. Big and tall men now account for 50% of the population, it says, spending some $6 billion annually. And, thanks to America's weight problem, it's one of the fastest-growing segments out there.
The new Penney division -- run by marketing vet Anne Sutherland Fuchs -- has also introduced two other retail initiatives, both in partnership with Hearst Corp. Gifting Grace, an online gifting resource, will target women ages 30 to 54, offering gift items, content and tools for the year-round gift-giver. Leveraging such Hearst brands as Good Housekeeping and Redbook, it plans to introduce the site with online marketing, as well as promotions in various Hearst books.
It is also working on CLAD, a menswear resource aimed at men ages 25 to 54, which will provide a full assortment of fashionable duds in conjunction with Hearst's Esquire.
The Plano, Tex.-based company says the new unit will pursue what it considers to be high-potential retail opportunities that are separate from the Penney brand, including digital and store initiatives.
Meanwhile, the company says its net income jumped 63% in the third quarter, thanks in part to new merchandising initiatives. Sales squeaked out a 0.2% gain in the quarter to $4.19 billion, from $4.18 billion in the same period a year ago. On a comparable-store basis, sales rose 1.9%.
The company says its launch of the Liz Claiborne brand has been "highly successful," and that its Sephora inside JCPenney concept is still exceeding expectations. It expects same-store sales to rise between 3 and 4% in the fourth quarter.