J.C. Penney’s fine jewelry departments started carrying a lab-grown diamond line in October 2018. It is called “Grown with Love” and it is manufactured, distributed and marketed by Richline.
Plano, Texas— J.C. Penney Co. Inc. will close nearly 30 underperforming stores in Q2 as the retailer continues to try to turn its business around following a fourth quarter that was slightly better than expected.

Fourth-quarter revenue totaled $3.79 billion, ahead of analyst estimates of $3.78 billion, but still a more than 8 percent drop compared with $4.14 billion a year ago.

Same-store sales in the fourth quarter dipped 4 percent, just slightly less than analysts had expected.

Jewelry, women’s apparel, children’s apparel and men’s apparel were the company’s top-performing divisions. Jewelry was an especially bright spot on the balance sheet, delivering double-digit comps.

For the full year, revenue dipped nearly 7 percent to $12.02 billion, compared with $12.87 billion a year ago, as same-store sales fell more than 3 percent.

The company posted a $255 million net loss.

Full-year highlights include boosting its partnerships with Nike, Adidas, Champion and Puma, and reducing inventory levels by more than 13 percent.

The retailer did not provide any forecast for 2019 but did give some insight into its turnaround plan for the year.

It includes closing 18 department stores and nine home and furniture stores, which have performed “significantly below” other locations.

Affected employees will receive separation benefits, including job assistance and outplacement services, like resume guidance and interview preparation.

The stores are expected to close in the second quarter of 2019 and cost the retailer an estimated pre-tax charge of $15 million.

CEO Jill Soltau noted the company has “already taken meaningful steps to drive improvement in key businesses such as women’s apparel, active apparel, special sized apparel and fine jewelry.”

The company announced in a blog post earlier this month that it will stop selling major appliances at the end of February “in order to better meet customer expectations, improve financial performance and drive profitable growth.”

In addition, furniture will only be sold online and in select stores in Puerto Rico.

The freed-up space will be dedicated to goods with higher margin opportunities in its “legacy” categories, which include apparel and soft home furnishing.

The retailer has also begun filling some empty seats in the boardroom, including hiring Michelle Wlazlo, a former senior vice president of apparel and accessories at Target, as its chief merchant officer.

John Welling, former senior vice president of merchandise operations for The Michaels Companies, will serve as senior vice president, planning and allocation.

Mark Stinde, former vice president of asset protection at 7-Eleven, will take on the role of senior vice president of asset protection.

The retailer is still looking for a chief financial officer, principal accounting officer and a chief customer officer, a company spokesperson confirmed.

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