J.C. Penney announced last week that it has launched Fanatics shops inside 325 of its stores, with plans to introduce another 325 additional Fanatics destinations by the back-to-school season. Since 2014, sports apparel brand Fanatics has sold its merchandise online at jcpenney.com. Like the online store, the shops-in-shops will house Fanatics shops with local collegiate and professional sports team merchandise. In 50 top sports markets, the stores will host a "premium" Fanatics shop featuring mounted flat-screen televisions, wall fan graphics, sports paraphernalia, an oversized headwear wall, and iPads connecting to the retailer's online Sports Fan Shop.
"Fanatics offers fans the world's largest collection of official sports brands, merchandise and apparel in the industry," said James Starke, senior vice president and head of merchandising, J.C. Penney, in a company press release. "We're delighted to combine their best-in-class assortment with a dynamic in-store experience that offers sports fans a one-stop destination for all their local team apparel needs. Combining a stunning specialty store environment with the unparalleled power of our online Sports Fan Shop provides [J.C. Penney] a unique competitive advantage, driving spend and frequency of visits to both stores and JCPenney.com."
Total Retail's Take: This announcement offers some much needed good news for J.C. Penney. Earlier this month the department store chain reported an adjusted loss of $69 million in the first quarter, and lowered its projections for the year. Sales also fell 4 percent. Furthermore, J.C.Penney announced it will cut 360 jobs at its stores and corporate headquarters. That's on top of more than 5,000 layoffs in 2017, after J.C. Penney decided to close nearly 140 stores. A needed bright spot for J.C. Penney has been its in-store Sephora shops, and the Fanatics model mirrors that partnership and presents a similar opportunity.