Sycamore Partners plans to buy J.C. Penney at $1.75B

MarketWatch reported that Sycamore Partners (the private equity firm that recently pulled out of a deal for Victoria’s Secret) has a good chance to win an auction to purchase J.C. Penney, the department store chain. The New York-based firm paid $1.75 billion to purchase the department store chain. Sycamore will merge J.C. Penney and Belk, a struggling chain of department stores based mostly in the South, if it wins the auction.

This would mean rebranding approximately 250 J.C. Penney locations as Belk stores in markets where they don’t overlap. All remaining J.C. Penney stores would be closed. MarketWatch reported Lisa Harper, Belk CEO, would lead the combined entity.

MarketWatch reports that Hudson’s Bay Co. is also interested in J.C. Penney’s acquisition with an offer of $1.7billion. Brookfield Property and Simon Property are the mall operators, while Brookfield Property has a bid of $1.65billion.

Total Retail’s TakeJ.C. Penney, a department store chain that has been around for more than 100 years, is still in business. However, its troubles — as well as those of other retailers — have been well documented over the years. Many retail chains are already suffering from the COVID-19 pandemic. This is likely to prove fatal for many of them. The idea of merging Belk and J.C. Penney in order to be more competitive with Macy’s seems very intriguing. A combined Belk/J.C. Penney could be a great combination. Penney has the market reach and resources to take down Macy’s. We’ll have to wait and see if Sycamore Partners wins J.C.Penney’s auction, and if so, what the final plans are for the iconic retail chain.

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“Distanced Experiential”: Understanding the New Experience Economy

Many predicted that the experience economy would reach $12 billion by 2023, which seems like a decade ago to most people. According to the survey, 72 percent said that they would rather spend their money on live events than material possessions. Retailers and brands responded to this desire for unique experiences. They adopted trends that allowed shoppers to physically be immersed in the brand’s world and also embraced personalization trends that made them feel included and valued. This shift has also been the driving force behind other important trending areas such as the influencer economy or the omnichannel shopping experience.

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This year, we are witnessing a halt in the experience economy and retail businesses. To paraphrase an old saying, “You can’t keep good industries down.”

Consumers are hungry for new experiences in today’s new normal. A retail experience is no longer limited to a visit to the gas station, or even a take-out meal at a restaurant. It’s never been more important to leave a lasting impression with consumers.

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Walmart’s Mother’s Day drive thru sample stations is a great example. It offered guests a unique experience, new products and safety while keeping them safe. Foods is another example. They offer services that were not considered “experiential” before COVID-19 but are now considered “consumer experience”.

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Customers can use their mobile app to notify the retailer when their journey is complete and have a designated parking spot for them upon their arrival. H&M and Foot Locker have installed LED screens at their stores to inform shoppers about the number of people in the stores, display messaging when there is no space and brand content while they wait to be admitted.

This is the “distanced experience economy” in a nutshell. As retail stores reopen, the most intelligent ones are trying to figure out how to incorporate it into their marketing plans.

Quarantine will bring new expectations to shoppers. This will change the way we think about experiential. Many will still gravitate to the items that give them the most sense of normalcy, and provide relief from the almost constant worry over the past few months.

The potential for distanced experiential to be a major player in re-opening the market is huge. Retailers and brands will be more successful in the post-COVID-19 era if they offer great experiences. Retailers’ future success will depend on their ability to adapt, grow, and impress. This is done through expressions that reflect their core values, which respect shoppers and allow for the simple joys and discovery of brand shopping — at an experiential distance.


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