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2016 Newsmakers of the Year: Penney Wise …

… but nothing foolish about JCPenney’s audacious return to major appliances after exiting the category 30 years ago. Seeing an opportunity amid the majap share declines of Sears and hhgregg, CEO (and recently named chairman) Marvin Ellison embarked on 22-store test last February that quickly burgeoned into a full-bore white-goods rollout into half of the chain’s 1,000 stores.

The pilot departments feature 100 to 215 kitchen and laundry products from Samsung, LG, GE and its Hotpoint brand; are staffed with specially trained, high-service sales associates; and were heralded with special promotions and local-market events including complimentary carnations, refreshments, free salon silver hair chalking and drawings for prizes.

Vendors welcome the new outlet for their products, and see it as a way to salvage sales should onetime industry leader Sears call it quits. For Penney, appliances mean a traffic driver and new revenue stream, and a way to boost its flagging home business while leveraging its core female customer base.

Sounds like a win-win to us.

See the rest of the 2016 Newsmakers of the Year.