By Phil Wahba
December 22, 2014

J.C. Penney (JCP) has long generated about half of its revenue from its own in-house brands, which range from Liz Claiborne to St. John’s Bay to Arizona jeans, among many others. Such brands are typically more profitable for Penney than brands consumers can find at many other retailers, and are a useful way to get shoppers into stores since they are exclusive to Penney.

Penney has been doing this for a long time. In fact, the department store launched its first private brand 100 years ago this year, with the Marathon Hats collection. James Cash Penney, who founded the company in Wyoming in 1902, started his own brands because some suppliers wouldn’t sell to him products of the quality he wanted.

Penney CEO Mike Ullman has made it clear that private brands would be front and center in the department store chain’s growth plans (for more, see the related story on Penney’s private label business). In fact, one of the cornerstones of his strategy when he returned to rescue Penney in April 2013 was to bring back private brands beloved of loyal customers, such as JCPenney Home and Cooks kitchenware, that the company had dumped during Ron Johnson’s misguided attempt to modernize the chain.

Here is a look at some classic J.C. Penney brands of the last 100 years.


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