JCPenney is taking advantage of the death of Babies R Us

JCPenney's new baby shops.

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JCPenney’s new baby shops.
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JCPenney

  • JCPenney is expanding its selection of baby products with new baby-centric shops in 500 stores.
  • It will sell some bigger items, like cribs, high chairs, and strollers, that were previously only sold online, as well as a larger selection of baby apparel.
  • The department store is looking to capitalize on Babies R Us’ store closures and lure in new customers.

JCPenney is wasting no time in capitalizing on the downfall of Toys R Us.

The department store announced on Thursday that it is rolling out new “baby shops” to 500 of its stores. These newly improved sections will offer some bigger items, like cribs, high chairs, and strollers, that were previously only sold online, as well as a larger collection of baby apparel and baby-related products such as bottles, pacifiers, diaper bags, and bouncer seats.

James Starke, senior vice president and head of merchandising for JCPenney, confirmed in a statement to the press that the timing is not coincidental. The company is seizing the opportunity to pursue “available market share and aggressively go after the baby customer with these new shops,” he said.

“We’ve strategically chosen these 500 JCPenney locations because the majority of the stores are near a specialty baby retailer that has recently closed its doors,” he added, likely referring to Babies R Us, which was part of the Toys R Us empire that filed for bankruptcy protection in September and liquidated all of its US stores earlier this year.

JCPenney is looking to win over new customers and drive traffic to its stores as it has struggled to find its place in the retail landscape.

In May, CEO Marvin Ellison resigned from the company to go to Lowe’s. Analysts say that Ellison jumped ship at a crucial point for the business.

“The departure of Marvin Ellison from JCPenney could not have come at a worse time for the beleaguered department store chain. The turnaround program that Ellison put in place has partly delivered but is still far from complete,” Neil Saunders of GlobalData Retail said at the time.

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal in July, Mike Robbins, JCPenney’s executive vice president of supply chain – and one of four executives filling the role of CEO while the company searches for a replacement for Ellison – said that the store’s biggest downfall had been in taking its eye off its core customer in a bid to appeal to millennial shoppers. The core customer he’s referring to here is the middle-aged mom.

The new baby shops, however, seem to be aimed to woo millennials who are just starting to become parents.

This isn’t the first time that JCPenney has looked to capitalize on other retailers’ bankruptcies. As part of his turnaround effort in 2016, Ellison led the charge to bring appliances back to stores after a 33-year hiatus.

The idea was to cash in on the collapse of rival department store Sears and appeal to first-time millennial homebuyers.