US-based department store chain JC Penney plans to unveil 700 Joe Fresh apparel shops on 15 March 2013 as part of its transformational strategy.

The shops will transform nearly 11 million square feet of retail space and contribute to its plans to reduce costs and improve customer experience.

Opening of 60 Sephora inside jcpenney stores and closure of 20 shops designated for home products in 505 stores is also part of the transformational plan.

JC Penney CEO Ron Johnson noted that the sales and consumer traffic for 2012 were below expectations as the retailer remains in a transition phase to improve cost structure, technology platforms and the overall customer experience.

"We have accomplished so much in the last twelve months. We believe the bold actions taken in 2012 will materially improve the Company’s long-term growth and profitability.

"Combining a new marketing campaign focused on style and value, incredible new brands and updated merchandise, with continued enhancements to the customer experience both in our stores and on, we are working towards reconnecting with our core customer while attracting new customers to jcpenney," said Johnson.

The retailer posted net sales of $12.99bn for the 2012 financial year, which was down 24.8% when compared to the figures of fiscal 2011.

Comparable store sales also declined 25.2% with internet sales falling 33%.

"Despite the impacts of reduced sales and gross margin and restructuring charges associated with the Company’s transformation throughout 2012, full year operating cash flow was a use of $10 million.

"The Company reduced its debt by $250 million in 2012 and ended the year with $930 million in cash and cash equivalents," the company said in a statement.