- J.C. Penney is expanding its big and tall men's assortment with a new brand, Shaquille O'Neal XLG, featuring the NBA star and television personality Shaquille O'Neal, the company on Monday.
- The collection will be available in 350 stores and online at JCPenney.com starting Sept. 13, and will feature 60 styles of men's suited separates, dress shirts, ties and belts in a range of sizes, along with furnishings designed with the big & tall customer in mind, according to a company press release.
- Prices include a suit for $199.99, sport coat for $114.99 and dress shirt for $32.50, and sizes of suited separates and sport coats will range up to 64, belts up to 4XL, and will include extra-long ties.
J.C. Penney has featured O'Neal, one of the world's most recognizable "big and tall" men, in broadcast, print, digital and social campaigns since this past spring, spotlighting their tie-up at key moments, like the NBA draft and Father's Day. O'Neal, whose brand is controlled by Authentic Brands Group, tweeted out the latest iteration of the partnership on Monday.
The retailer needs the assist. Analysts downgraded the company last week amid uncertainty about its prospects after the recent departure of CEO Marvin Ellison. The retailer's situation is not nearly so dire as Sears', but it shares many of the same problems, including a high debt load (just shy of $4 billion), too many stores anchored to lesser malls and shifting consumer preferences.
Penney's has been under pressure for some time, and it closed out last year with a shakeup in its executive offices, letting go of longtime chief merchant John Tighe while axing that position completely. Last year, the company also attempted a drastic reset and swept away much of its women's inventory as it warned of a critical sales slump ahead of the holidays.
It's not all bad. The company's comparable sales, while still below many of its better-performing peers, haven't tumbled anything like Sears' have. Last week, the retailer reported a second quarter net sales decline of 7.5% year over year to $2.8 billion, mostly due to closing stores, but comparable store sales were slightly positive at 0.3%. The company's net loss widened in the quarter to $101 million, more than double that of a year ago.
That makes its success with its special size assortment quite a bright spot. More retailers are increasing size ranges for women, and Penney stands out with its attention to men.