J.C. Penney and Lionel Richie say 'Hello'
Music legend Lionel Richie has designed a bedding and bath collection for J.C. Penney, the retailer announced Monday. Overall, the collection (comforters, quilts, sheets, decorative pillows and bath towels) has a subdued classic aesthetic, with some sets offering a seventies pop flair, and is priced affordably — $129.99 for a queen comforter set, $39.99 for two decorative pillows and $24.99 for two Euro shams.
The sets are designed to coordinate with other bedding, bath and window products from JCPenney Home, a premium private label, and the two brands will be merchandised together in one shop this September, according to a company press release.
Richie is best known for a string of funk and soul hits with his band the Commodores and later a solo career dominated by top-of-the-chart ballads that likely were a fixture of many bedrooms in the 1970s and 1980s. He is also an award-winning songwriter for other musicians, and his star is rising again as a judge on the singing competition show American Idol.
After gaining some traction following former CEO Ron Johnson's extreme overhaul and subsequent retreat, Penney is once again in the doldrums. In March, the company reported net sales fell 0.3% to $12.51 billion, mainly because of store closures in 2017, as same-store sales rose 0.1%.
The retailer saw a nice holiday sales bump as consumers lifted most boats, but 2017 was centered on closing stores and slashing jobs. (The retailer announced 360 job cuts in March, on top of 670 jobs eliminated as it shut down a distribution center earlier in the year.) Penney has been under pressure for some time, and it closed out the year with a shakeup in its executive offices, letting go of longtime chief merchant John Tighe (and axing that position completely) in order to "streamline decision-making and promote greater agility within its merchandise buying teams."
Late last year, the company attempted a drastic reset and swept away much of its women's inventory as it warned of a critical sales slump in the third quarter. But CEO Marvin Ellison has said the home category holds promise and, as with appliance sales, is hoping to take market share as Sears stores continue to topple. "While we continue to take steps to improve our apparel strategy and assortment, we see our home refresh initiative as a great vehicle for growth and differentiation," he said last year.
Follow Daphne Howland on Twitter