Shops Open, J.C. Penney Stock Climbs

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Today marks the opening of the long-awaited in-store shops at J.C. Penney Co. Inc. (NYSE: JCP) stores. About 500 of the company’s 1,100 stores will unveil in-store shops from Martha Stewart, designer Michael Graves (pictured) and others.

For those with short memories, these shops were among the first major changes announced by CEO Ron Johnson after he took the reins at J.C. Penney. Another big part of Johnson’s plan was to eliminate coupons and weekly sales, replacing them with what was called “Fair and Square Pricing” every day. The store’s customers hated the lack of sales and coupons and stayed away in droves.

The shop-in-the-stores concept is also threatened by a lawsuit against J.C. Penney and Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc. (NYSE: MSO) by Macy’s Inc. (NYSE: M). Macy’s claims to have an exclusive deal with Martha Stewart, and J.C. Penney has had to lower its sights for using the Stewart brand on many household items. The suit went to trial in February.

J.C. Penney stock is up by 5.3% this morning, at $15.88 in a 52-week range of $14.10 to $36.89.