JC Penney Moves in One Direction, Sears in Another, Freestyle Solutions

Two iconic but troubled retailers took steps to resolve questions about their future this week although their actions can be seen as taking each in a different direction.

JC Penney announced that their vacant CEO position will be filled by Jill Soltau who, until now, filled a similar role for Joann Stores. The company was badly in need of direction and has much to do to secure its financial wellbeing, making this hire now gives Soltau the ability to have some impact on how Penney plans for the Holiday season and in many ways that will be a key factor in how the market views her and the future of the company. Read more about Solatu’s new role as CEO.

Sears shared very different news with the announcement of the closing of eleven stores and that layoffs in some stores would be begin on December 23rd.  Sears CEO Eddie Lampert is in negotiation with creditors to restructure debt and to sell assets. The proposal included warnings about near term financial problems. You can learn more about the issues facing Sears and what the future holds for the brand.

What is the future of these two retail giants and is it possible that one or both can survive long term in the new retail climate?  We have seen other large retailers fail and while there is some finality to one version of a retailer we also know that they can be reincarnated as FAO Schwarz prepares to reopen a store in New York City. There is also news about a potential revival of Toys R Us.

It is very hard to predict the fate of JC Penney and Sears or whether this incarnation of both stores would necessarily be the last one.

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