Empire Today to test flooring department inside JCPenney stores

HomeNewsEmpire Today to test flooring department inside JCPenney stores

By Ken Ryan

Empire Today, ranked among the top 10 U.S. floor covering retailers, has announced a partnership with JCPenney to establish separate flooring departments in seven of its stores—four in the Tampa market and three in the Washington, D.C., suburbs.

These store-in-store formats will be Empire Today-branded and will range in size from 750 to 1,200 square feet. Keith Weinberger, CEO of Empire Today, told FCNews that the stores would carry the full complement of flooring products that its three existing brick-and-mortar stores carry, albeit on a much smaller scale. The three physical stores—two on Long Island and one in Fairfax, Va.—are 5,000 square feet.

The Tampa stores are expected to be up and running by the end of June, while the D.C.-area branches will be operational by the end of July. The merchandising mix will be customized by market and to a lesser degree by store within the same market. For example, Empire Today stores in Tampa will have more hard surface offerings such as tile, which appeals more to Florida residents; the D.C.-area stores will have a little more carpet. The D.C. stores will be located in Fairfax and Springfield, Va., and Gaithersburg, Md. Weinberger said there is potential for a third market to be added at some point.

The JCPenney-Empire test will be a revenue-sharing model. Empire will hire its own staff—five to seven people per store—to run the business within the home department of JCPenney.

The Empire Today announcement is part of a much larger home retrofit for JCPenney, which will be returning to the major home appliance business with plans to add kitchen and laundry showrooms to 500 of its stores by this fall and online later this summer. JCPenney is also rethinking how it sells furniture with Ashley Furniture, the largest maker and retailer of home furnishings in the U.S. Twenty Penney stores will be part of a new furniture test, in which merchandise will be sold and then shipped directly to the customer from Ashley.

“We’re excited that JCPenney felt Empire Today was the brand they want to work with in the flooring category to go along with GE in appliances and Ashley Furniture,” Weinberger said. “We are thrilled to have the opportunity to reach out to more potential customers and give them the best experience possible. This is a good fit for Empire Today.

Empire Today, with its shop-at-home format, opened its three physical stores in February 2015. Weinberger said the stores have met company expectations and have shown improvement every month. While Weinberger said the company has considered expanding the number of brick-and-mortar locations, the flooring test with JCPenney is the focus for now.

Weinberger allowed that the JCPenney deal is a way for Empire Today to expand its physical presence to additional markets without the cost of building a new facility. “This is much more efficient,” he said.

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