J.C. Penney Co. Inc. said Thursday that it will begin providing business-to-business services for the hotel and lodging and multi-unit residential industries, in an effort to gain market share in the major appliances and soft home goods market. The department store chain said it will be staffing an outside sales force with experience and expertise in the U.S. hospitality industry, which the company said is a $200 billion market. "The idea first stemmed from hotel operators who were already ordering large volume purchases of bedding, bath and window treatments from JCPenney.com," said Chief Executive Marvin Ellison. Separately, the company said it will be expanding its mattress showrooms to an additional 300 stores by early fall. J.C. Penney's stock, which was still inactive in premarket trade, has tumbled 44% year to date, while the SPDR S&P Retail ETF has shed 7.2% and the S&P 500 has gained 5.3%.
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