JCPenney is going straight for the jugular of its embattled rival

YouTube/JCPenneyJCPenney CEO Marvin Ellison says the retailer is bearing down on Sears.
  • JCPenneyCEO Marvin Ellison says he’s “going after Sears… as they continue to contract.”
  • “When and if they decide to get out of the brick-and-mortar business we have a very clear understanding of where those locations are,” Ellison told Fortune. “We’re not going to be caught off guard.”
  • JCPenney started zeroing in on its competitor two years ago, when it resumed selling home appliances – which represents Sears’ most important category – after a 30-year hiatus.

JCPenney says it’s helping to suck the life out of its embattled rival, Sears.

“We’re going after Sears and we’re going after market share that we think is going to be available not only now but as they continue to contract,” JCPenney CEO Marvin Ellison told Fortune’s Phil Wahba.

Sears has been closing hundreds of stores amid a years-long sales decline. The company said this week it was planning to close 103 Sears and Kmart stores by April, on top of the 63 store closures scheduled at the end of this month. Last year, the company closed nearly 400 stores.

Ellison said JCPenney is gearing up to swallow what remains of Sears’ business, and he suggested that Sears may eventually close all of its brick-and-mortar locations.

“When and if they decide to get out of the brick-and-mortar business we have a very clear understanding of where those locations are,” Ellison told Fortune. “We’re not going to be caught off guard.”

Sears did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

JCPenney started really zeroing in on its competitor two years ago, when it resumed selling home appliances – which represents Sears’ most important category – after a 30-year hiatus.

The return to selling appliances like washing machines, refrigerators, and dishwashers is paying off for JCPenney.

The company said its appliance sales jumped 30% during the holiday quarter, contributing to 3.4% same-store sales growth for the period.

Sears’ sales have been plummeting by comparison. The company hasn’t yet released sales figures for the holiday period, but in the most recent quarter, same-store sales fell 17%.

NOW WATCH: Briefing videos

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.