By Michelle Graff
Plano, Texas--Fine jewelry, along with apparel and accessories, are among the categories turning in an above-average performance at J.C. Penney Co. Inc., the retailer said this week.

Although the company is not yet set to release its full third quarter earnings, J.C. Penney publicly provided an update on its turnaround Tuesday.

The Plano-based department store chain said that although September same-store sales are down 4 percent compared with last year, it is an improvement when compared with comp sales in August.

Sales on improved 25 percent in September and 11 percent in August as compared with the same months last year. In the third quarter to date, online sales are up 19 percent over last year.

In tracking specific categories, the retailer noted that “women’s and men’s apparel, fine jewelry and women’s accessories are performing better than the company average.”  Women’s apparel is the company’s largest business.

J.C. Penney said it’s having success reconnecting with its core customer--something it stressed after the departure of former CEO Ron Johnson, who made a number of changes that proved unpopular--and that its customer service scores are at an all-time high.
“Over the last six months, we have made significant strides and are now seeing positive signs in many important areas of the business, in spite of what continues to be a difficult environment for consumers and retailers in general,” CEO Myron E. Ullman III said. “While pleased with the improving trends and more predictable performance, we are still in the early stages of the turnaround.”

On Wednesday, J.C. Penney announced the election of Steve Sadove to its board of directors.

Sadove is the chairman and CEO of Saks Inc. who will be leaving the high-end retailer at the end of the calendar year due to its merger with Canadian retailer Hudson’s Bay Company.

He will join J.C. Penney’s board as soon as he leaves Saks.

Sadove joined the management team at Saks as vice chairman in 2002, rising through the ranks to become chairman and CEO in 2007. He also serves on the boards at Colgate-Palmolive and restaurant chain Ruby Tuesday, and is chairman of the board of the National Retail Federation.

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