J.C. Penney Slowly Returning to Health: Johnson

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May 15 (Bloomberg) -- Customer Growth Partners President Craig Johnson discusses J.C. Penney's narrower-than-expected loss with Pimm Fox on Bloomberg Television's "Taking Stock." (Source: Bloomberg)

Report from jcpenney.

We were not surprised by it because we have 16 people across the country in the stores every week, and we saw the increase in traffic.

And the fact that the average ticket is moving up, the long, slow rebound that jcpenney is gathering steam, and the company is poised to -- not quite breaking into black ink yet, but gross margins, which had been in the high 20's are now nicely into the 30's, and calm sales of 6% are off a low bottom and a nice improvement.

Can you describe the strategy that jcpenney is implementing?

There are going a couple of different things.

First of all, you had to stabilize -- you had to write the ship -- right the ship and solve some of the problems of the ron johnson legacy.

Then you had to recapture the lost customer, which means in a sense back to basics in terms of offering the customer what she wanted in terms of style, in terms of fit, in terms of the kind of product, the balance they have in terms of their own labels, private labels as well as national brands as well as improving the home department.

He has been working on all new stuff, kind of like locking and tackling, but it is what the customer wanted.

Along with cost controls, which has always been a forte of his, they are slowly adopting the kind of steps that are necessary to return the ship to health.

As far as jcpenney goes, we've got their results.

Can we read anything into the results of other retailers based on what we are hearing from jcpenney?

Not so much because jcpenney is a little bit of an anomalous company.

If you look at the rest of the numbers, whether it is from kohl's, macy's, most particularly walmart this morning, and in the spate of retailers about to report, this has been a very difficult quarter across most retail, particularly in the discretionary categories, notably apparel and department stores.

There's a lot of weakness out there.

Jcp more or less is a reflection of the overall economy, which remains very weak, but a reflection of a company that was down so far, it's like the old

This text has been automatically generated. It may not be 100% accurate.


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