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J.C. Penney: The new place to play games, workout & hangout?

James Leggate

Retailer J.C. Penney is testing out new concepts it could roll out to some of its locations as it seeks a way to return to profitability.

The chain has remodeled its store in Hurst, Texas, with a fitness studio, videogame lounge and cafe, The Wall Street Journal reported.

J.C. Penney is also offering style classes, hair and makeup workshops and cooking gadget demonstrations at the location, according to the report. There are 11 lounges, plus a hair salon, barbershop and shoe shine. The store’s fitting rooms have interactive mirrors that let shoppers order items to be delivered by employees.

While parents are trying out yoga or other fitness classes, their children can watch movies at the store’s clubhouse, the Journal reported. The clubhouse also offers arts-and-crafts days for children.

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The ideas being tested at the Hurst store, which is located about 45 minutes from J.C. Penney Company’s headquarters, might not be rolling out to all of the company’s 850 locations. But they provide some insight into what the company’s leaders are thinking as they seek to turn around years of continued losses.

Penney reported a net loss of $48 million last quarter. But CEO Jill Soltau said she was “pleased” with the progress the company had made in lowering its costs, increasing margins and reducing its inventory.

“While we still have work to do on our topline, I strongly believe that growing sales in an unprofitable way is simply not an option,” Soltau said in a press release in August. “The only way I know how to reconstruct a business is through a holistic approach across all the key tenets of strategic, purposeful and effective retailing.”

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Soltau has also moved the retailer back out of the appliance business to focus on its more profitable categories. The company partnered with online consignment store thredUP in August to carry like-new handbags and women’s clothes at 30 stores, and in September Penney said it was launching a new outdoor shop at 100 stores.

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