Where does J.C. Penney go after ending its Bombfell subscription deal?
Last month, J.C. Penney announced that it was getting out of the appliance sales business to focus attention on apparel and other soft goods categories. Just what that will mean remains to be seen as CEO Jill Soltau, hired in October, puts her personal stamp on the company. One thing Penney’s plans will not include is continuing participation in the Bombfell men’s clothing subscription service.
The Bombfell service is similar to those offered by StitchFix and Nordstrom’s Trunk Club. Customers pay a monthly subscription fee, $20, to have a dedicated stylist pick out items for them to wear. Items are shipped free with no cost for returns. Any items kept have the monthly fee deducted from their cost.
In an email to the chubstr blog, Bombfell said it would end shipments of Penney merchandise today and issue refunds for all returned merchandise by April 15.
Penney’s relationship with Bombfell was short-lived, having only been announced in December 2017. The service offered Penney’s private labels as well as national brands in big and tall sizes sold by the chain. Bombfell handled logistics as part of the deal.
Men’s big and tall clothing has been an area of growing strength for Penney. On the company’s third quarter earnings call in November, Trent Kruse, J.C. Penney’s head of investor relations, said, “Our focus on special sizes continues to show results with our men’s big and tall business up nearly 15 percent this quarter. This customer knows they can count on J.C. Penney to provide the fit they need and the style they deserve.”
Burt Flickinger, managing director of Strategic Resource Group, told Reuters that, while big and tall clothing is among the fastest growing categories at retail, “neither Penney nor Bombfell really has the size or the scale now to take the partnership forward.”
Penney announced this morning that its same-store sales for the fourth quarter fell four percent with Ms. Soltau expressing optimism about the chain’s future.
“Based on everything I have seen and heard, I am even more convinced that J.C. Penney is a revered brand that has the capacity to deliver improved results,” she said. “In spite of our past financial performance, we have already taken meaningful steps to drive improvement in key businesses such as women’s apparel, active apparel, special sized apparel and fine jewelry.”
- Bad News, Everyone: The JCPenney + Bombfell Subscription Box Is Ending – Chubstr
- J.C. Penney pulls plug on clothing subscription service – Reuters
- J.C. Penney dumps appliances – RetailWire
- J.C. Penney Company Inc. (JCP) CEO Jill Soltau on Q3 2018 Results (Earnings Call Transcript) – Seeking Alpha
- JCPenney Reports Fourth Quarter and Fiscal 2018 Earnings – J.C. Penney Company, Inc./Globe Newswire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you expect J.C. Penney to abandon subscription services altogether after Bombfell or will it seek an alternative? In general, do you think subscription services are a business opportunity that department stores should pursue?