UPDATE 1-J.C. Penney new shops shine, rest of store sales tough

Wed Sep 19, 2012 4:20pm EDT

Sept 19 (Reuters) - Comparable sales at J.C. Penney Co Inc's new shops within its stores, including those selling IZOD sportswear and Levi's jeans, are running 20 percent higher than sales elsewhere in the stores, Chief Executive Ron Johnson told analysts on Wednesday.

In a presentation that was also webcast, Johnson conceded it was "way too early to draw conclusions" as the retailer has so far opened only 12 of the "stores-within-stores." Some of those have been open for only three weeks and others for seven weeks.

Investor enthusiasm for results at the new shops quickly faded when Johnson spoke about sales in the rest of the store.

"The last two weeks have been much tougher than we planned," he said.

Shares of J.C. Penney closed up 3 cents at $29.09 after rising more than 8 percent initially following Johnson's comments about sales at the stores-within-stores.

Under Johnson, J.C. Penney is planning to transform its stores into a collection of 100 specialty boutiques by 2015.

The strategy also included getting rid of coupons, leading to large sales drops early on as confused shoppers accustomed to discounts went elsewhere. In the second quarter, same-store sales fell 21.7 percent.

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