Department store retailer JC Penney Co is planning to open and renovate fewer stores and focus instead on private label and exclusive lines such as its American Living brand to help it ride out the economic downturn.

Speaking to analysts and investors in New York this week, chief executive Mike Ullman said the company will cut new store openings from 50 to 36 this year, while store renovations will drop to 20 from 65.

New stores will focus on lines like American Living, which is designed by Global Brand Concepts, a division of Polo Ralph Lauren.

The retailer is also expanding its offer for younger shoppers, with new teen lines such as Decree and Whitetag, which were unveiled earlier this week, C7P denim from Chip and Pepper, and Le Tigre, designed by Kenneth Cole Productions.

Ullman described the outlook through 2009 as "very difficult."