JC Penney partners with Hearst on e-commerce site launches

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JC Penney Co. said November 11 that it will launch a pair of online retail sites next summer in partnership with Hearst Magazines.

Gifting Grace will be an online gifting site targeting women ages 30 to 54, while Clad will be an online modern menswear portal aimed at men ages 25 to 54. The portals will offer an assortment of designer brands.

Hearst will promote both sites in the publishing giant's magazines – Gifting Grace through Redbook and Good Housekeeping and Clad through Esquire. Advertisements for the sites will appear in promotional sections in Hearst publications and on the company's websites.

“The magazines will help curate merchandise from the inventories of Clad and Gifting Grace,” said Jessica Kleiman, spokesperson for Hearst Magazines. She said Hearst has had advertising partnerships with retailers, but this is the first time it has done so with e-commerce brands.

“This is an entirely different type of relationship,” she said.

JC Penney also reported on November 12 total net sales of $4.189 billion for the third quarter, a 0.2% increase year-over-year. For the first nine months of the year, the company saw total net sales of $12.06 billion, a 0.4% increase from the same period in 2009. The company's Q3 net income of $44 million was 63% higher than last year, while its net income for the first nine months of this year, $118 million, was up 131% from last year.

The sites will be part of JC Penney's new Growth Brands division, which will operate distinctly from the company's retail stores and websites. Aside from selling products, the portals will offer content and tips and engage consumers through social media components, such as customer ratings and the sharing of “success stories.”

Kleiman said lending the brand names of Esquire and Good Housekeeping to the sites is a major part of the partnership's value.

“There's credibility with the brands, and when we have our imprimatur on the selections it's meaningful,” she said. “As the media landscape changes and magazines are no longer just print properties, we have to be in lots of different places.”

A JC Penney representative could not be reached for comment.

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