Customers ride the escalator at a J.C.Reuters

Department store operator J.C. Penney Co Inc said it would start selling home appliances from February, re-entering the business after a gap of more than 30 years.


The chain will sell kitchen and laundry appliances in a range of price points from GE, Hotpoint, LG Electronics Inc and Samsung Electronics in 22 pilot stores starting Feb. 1.


"The introduction of major appliances will help us continue to significantly improve sales and gross profit per square foot in our home department," Chief Executive Marvin Ellison said in a statement.


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Sales of home goods accounted for about 12 percent of the company's total sales in 2014.


Appliances were popular shopping items this holiday season. Best Buy reported a 13.4 percent rise in appliance sales at comparable stores in the 9 weeks ended Jan. 2.

J.C. Penney also said it plans to make appliances available at its online store starting spring.