Retail was having a rough time of it ahead of the pandemic, it’s having a rough time of it during the pandemic, and it will probably have a rough time after the pandemic, as more and more companies feel the crush of social distancing measures and a crumbling economy. This is especially true for places who were struggling in the Before Times, like J.C. Penney, which may file for bankruptcy later this month. Sephora’s not happy about it.
According to Women’s Wear Daily, Sephora is looking to pull its stores out of J.C. Penney locations as the department store chain careens toward insolvency. Like most retailers, J.C. Penney shuttered most of its locations in mid-March and furloughed its employees, prompting its already-struggling sales plummet. Some of those locations are in the process of reopening, but Sephora, which has been J.C. Penney’s exclusive makeup retailer since 2006, wants out of its contract, and reportedly told J.C. Penney that it will not allow its stores to reopen along with the chain.
J.C. Penney filed a temporary restraining order against Sephora to stop them from forcing their hand, but Sephora says it will continue to take action.
“It is no secret that J.C. Penney has experienced financial challenges in recent years and it now faces the additional strains affecting all retailers in the wake of COVID-19,” a Sephora representative told WWD in a statement. “Given this reality, our focus has been on finding an amicable agreement with J.C. Penney regarding the future of our partnership, and these discussions have been undertaken with a sense of urgency as there is a potential impact to our business, our people and our brand partners.”
So, it’s possible that if and when J.C. Penney starts operating at full strength, they’ll do it without Sephora. It’s also possible J.C. Penney will never start operating at full strength, or that any retailer will, at this point.