14249 Tue, 04/15/2008 - 12:19pm
By Barbara Thau PLANO, Texas–Further beefing up its mix of exclusive lifestyle brands, J.C. Penney will roll out Linden Street in July, what the company is calling its most comprehensive home launch ever.
With this line, the retailer is jockeying to fill a void in its mix for neotraditional merchandise defined by “contemporary updates of classic product,” said Jeffrey Allison, executive vice president of J.C. Penney home and custom decorating. The line has the potential to be “among our biggest home brands.”
Linden Street, with a casual, lived-in feel, includes bedding, bath, window coverings, area rugs, furniture lighting and tabletop.
The brand is positioned as “good-and-better” in the good-better-best equation.
“We had this huge, neotraditional opportunity” Allison said. “We didn’t have a strong offering there.”
While the line targets the “young family that’s more of a starting-out customer, it can appeal to a lot of different” demographics, Allison said.
“Home has been one of our tougher and more challenging businesses,” Allison said. “We have to make sure we’re putting out great style and pricing to give her a reason to buy and stay in front of the customers during these tough times.”
Allison has spent the past year rationalizing J.C. Penney’s home programs around its four lifestyle segments: traditional, which includes the American Living line that just bowed from Ralph Lauren, and the Chris Madden collection; conservative, reflected in the J.C. Penney Home Collection; neotraditional; and modern, exemplified by the Studio program.
To make room for Linden Street, the retailer slightly edited down the Studio and J.C. Penney Home collections, and converted some existing programs, such as part of its J.C. Penney Home Collection window covering line, into Linden Street.
Rationalizing its private brands also meant re-categorizing merchandise. “We had a lot of goods in Studio that were traditional, and [products] in the Chris Madden line that truly belonged in Studio,” he said.
Linden Street is sourced and designed entirely in-house.
Private brands account for a hefty 45 percent of J.C. Penney’s mix today, and in home, that percentage is even bigger, Allison said, but declined to disclose the number.
Linden Street merchandise will also be featured in what J.C. Penney calls “hot zones” in its stores, where everything from bed and bath to tabletop will be pulled together in one area.
J.C. Penney will also experiment with merchandising the line in a lifestyle concept shop in three stores whose locations have yet to be determined.
The retailer is putting marketing the line with a direct-mail campaign, and ads in the key shelter magazines in July. Then in September, the brand will be relaunched and include a “heavy e-mail blitz,” Allison said.
Price points for Linden Street range from $40 to $400 for bedding; $7.99 to $199.99 for tabletop; and $1,399 to $1,959 for furniture.