The J. C. Penney Company, also known as JCPenney, JC Penney, Penney’s, or JCP, operates over 1,000 department stores across the US and Puerto Rico. JCPenney’s current CEO is Marvin Ellison, and the Chairman of the Board is Mike E. Ullman III. Revenues exceeded $12 billion in 2014, a strong recovery from the financial difficulties in recent years. Focused on discounted retail, JCPenney coupon codes and regular sales make the products offered quite affordable.
Founded in 1902 in Kemmerer, Wyoming by James Cash Penney, the original store was successful and Penney quickly expanded operations, buying out the interests of his early partners. He later incorporated Penney under its new name, the J. C. Penney Company and moved the headquarters to New York City in 1914. He also included William Henry McManus as a cofounder. Their continued success led to the opening of 1,000 stores by 1928 and annual revenues of $190 million.
JCPenney shifted towards discount merchandising after buying the General Merchandise Company in 1962, and has always focused on moderate price points and discounts, making wide use of coupon and promo codes. The stores generally employ a large format and occupy hundreds of thousands of square feet, providing shoppers with a large area in which to find products. Many customers seek out best buys and high value purchases, with lots of sale items and broad use of coupons and promo codes to make merchandise even more affordable. Most stores were and continue to be located in suburban shopping malls, though the reduction in traffic in such malls has caused problems for JCPenney and many other retailers in recent years. E-commerce sales, as well, especially with the ready availability of coupons and promo codes for free shipping, mean that fewer people find the need to visit physical stores.
James Cash Penney passed away on February 12, 1971, but the company continued to remain successful, with revenues of $5 billion that year. Continuing to expand, the company operated over 2,000 stores by 1973, at its peak. However the recession of the 1970’s hurt JCPenney, and many of the stores became unprofitable, forcing closure of many stores. Despite the offerings of coupon codes, the company faced challenges selling products to customers with less disposable income.
Despite the challenges, JCPenney continued to innovate, and became one of the earliest and most successful online merchants. JCPenney opened an online store through Viewtron in 1983, long before e-commerce became so pervasive. The early online store made extensive use of specials, precursors to today’s wide use of coupon codes, promo codes, and free shipping offers that make online ordering so affordable.
In 1990, JCPenney moved the corporate headquarters to Plano, Texas, where it remains. Its competition decreased in 1993, when Sears exited the catalog business, leading JCPenney to be the largest catalog retailer in the US. Many customers eagerly anticipated the arrival of their JCPenney catalogs, and this robust business propelled the company to financial success during the 1990’s. This led JCPenney to open its first true internet store in 1998, years before many other stores were online. This store was successful, though this was before it was easy to use a coupon or readily available promo codes online, which make shopping more affordable today.
JCPenney continued to grow in the early 2000s, selling off their direct-marketing insurance unit and Eckerd division while adding additional stores. JCPenney also launched a lingerie label, Ambrielle, which became the largest private brand launched in the company’s history. JCPenney continued to make it easy for customers to use a coupon in store or online at this time. They also reintroduced cosmetics with the opening of Sephora “stores within a store”. This model has expanded in many ways, and the company continues to lease portions of its stores to Sephora, Seattle’s Best Coffe, optical centers, portrait studios, and salons, offering additional services to customers while also earning rents on these spaces. They also continued to make wide use of specials and coupon codes, helping drive sales for the company.
However, JCPenney also hit some tough times, and exited the catalog business in 2011 while also closing all of its outlet stores. Some of those stores were replaced by regular JCPenney stores, however, so the total reduction in store count was not as severe. During this time, the company continued to offer coupon codes and discounts regularly for its customers.
Due to the economic difficulties, the company decided to try a new approach, hiring Ron Johnson in 2011 to revamp the store. Johnson had previously been highly successful launching Apple’s store locations, and tried to bring a similar approach to JCPenney. However, customers were used to the stores regular schedule of coupons, promo codes, and special sales, and Johnson tried to shift to a more “Every Day” low price model. The company took a large financial hit and lost many customers. At the same time, the company invested heavily in a Shops strategy, altering stores from their more traditional format. By the end of 2012, sales were off almost 30%, with same store sales down 32%, and the company recognized that many of the changes weren’t working. While JCPenney coupon codes continued to be available, the new pricing model was not as attractive and didn’t offer the thrill of finding great bargains.
Johnson was fired in April of 2013 after only 17 months, and the former CEO, Mike Ullman, was brought back in as his replacement. Rather quickly, the company returned to its aggressive discounting model, continuing to offer lots of coupons and other savings mechanisms for customers. However, the market value of the company had dropped substantially, and JCPenney had lost market share to competitors who had moved aggressively during JCPenney’s troubling times.
JCPenney is now a smaller company than it once was, operating only 1,060 stores as opposed to the more than 2,000 it operated at its peak, but it has largely regained many of its most loyal customers. JCPenney coupon codes and promo codes, including those for free shipping, are still offered on a regular basis for online orders, as well as in-store offerings. JCPenney will also relaunch some formally successful business units, such as appliances for kitchens and laundry rooms, in 2016. JCPenney had formerly made such offerings successfully, but had moved away from appliances in the 1980s to focus on other areas.