JCPenney -- 65 years in Sikeston

Saturday, May 15, 2004

Business Today

SIKESTON - Sixty-five years ago this month, when P.E. Brown opened the doors to Sikeston's first JCPenney store, he was determined to follow the golden rule establish by company founder James Cash Penney. The company's goal then, and still today, is to "serve the public, as nearly as we can, to its complete satisfaction."

"Value and quality, that is what JCPenney started and what we continue to emphasize," said James Burchett, manager of Sikeston's JCPenney.

While the motto is the same, Burchett said if the original Sikeston Penney's manager walked into the store today, he would be startled by all the changes.

According to Burchett, in 2000 the JCPenney Co. underwent a reorganization. Management brought in new players at the corporate level to create a company able to compete as it moves into its second century of operation. The new leaders are driving forces behind the many changes at JCPenney, he said.

Burchett points out new lines the company offers through its stores across the nation. For young men, the USA Polo and South Pole labels have proved popular, and there is a larger selection of casual wear for men. The company created private labels as well as emphasizing its St. John's Bay and Stafford lines.

"Crazy Horse, a new women's label, has been accepted well by our customers. We have had more than a 50 percent increase in our casual wear business for women," he said. "And for the junior shopper we have expanded the total department selection."

The local store continues to focus on what Burchett describes as "fashionability." He added there is an effort to define categories within the store's space and to improve presentation for the customers.

JCPenney stores across the country are a major player in the home furnishing area and are the No. 1 retailer of towels.

A redefined marketing program puts an emphasis on sales events on a regular basis at all stores through national and local advertising.

The changes, Burchett said, have brought success not only for the local store but the entire company. A company news release dated April 8 reported department store sales increased 11.4 percent for the five weeks ending April 3. The sales, which were above expectations, were strong across all merchandise divisions, the company reported.

JCPenney Co.'s move into the Internet has proved equally successful said Burchett, who noted sales are steadily increasing in this area.

Nationwide the company is opening 14 new stores, similar to its Sikeston operation. These are smaller, free-standing stores located near population areas with high traffic.

The Sikeston store employs about 50 people through its retail and salon operations.

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