J.C. Penney turnaround falters with 3Q loss

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NEW YORK — J.C. Penney Co. today reported a third-quarter loss that was larger than analysts estimated as Chief Executive Officer Ron Johnson struggles to overhaul the fourth-largest U.S. department-store company.

The net loss of $123 million, or 56 cents a share, in the three months ended Oct. 27 compares with a loss of $143 million, or 67 cents, a year earlier, the Plano, Texas-based company said in a statement.

Johnson, the former Apple retail chief who joined as CEO last year, has lost customers as he transforms most J.C. Penney stores into collections of branded shops and implements an everyday low pricing strategy. Johnson said today that the old-style J.C. Penney, which still encompasses most stores, struggled in the third quarter and faces “significant challenges,” calling it “a tale of two companies.”

J.C. Penney incurred $34 million in restructuring and management transition charges in the quarter, according to the statement.

In September, Johnson said results at the company’s boutiques, installed in almost 700 of its stores, were beating comparable sales of other merchandise.

The retailer’s branded shops are proving to be more productive on a sales-per-square foot basis, Johnson said today on a conference call with analysts.

Johnson said in January that the retailer’s transformation would take four years and has said since then the change is a “marathon” and not a sprint.

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