Apple Store Exec to Lead J.C. Penney
J.C. Penney is heading into a new era and the department store chain is turning to Ron Johnson, senior vice president of retail at Apple, to lead it.
Mr. Johnson, who took the Apple Store from its inception 11 years ago to over 300 stores today, will assume the role of chief executive officer of J.C. Penney beginning Nov. 1. He replaces Myron “Mike” Ullman, the long-time CEO of the department store chain.
Mr. Ullman said of his successor, “He is widely recognized and highly regarded in the retail industry for his creativity and innovation, his commitment to empowering employees to deliver an unparalleled customer experience, and to making stores exciting places where people love to shop.”
Before joining Apple, Mr. Johnson spent 15 years at Target where he rose to vice president of merchandising.
“It’s our job to rethink everything,” Mr. Johnson, told Bloomberg News. “Retailing’s always been about creativity; it’s about creating exciting new ways for people to shop, new products for people to purchase, new ways to do things.”
Mike Janes, chief executive of FanSnap who worked with the new Penney CEO at Apple, told Reuters, “From day one, and ever since, I have never heard Ron refer to somebody coming into the stores as anything other than a guest. When you hear him talk, you feel like you are talking to somebody who was running a Four Seasons hotel as opposed to somebody who was running retail.”
“He’s kind of the CEO from central casting,” Howard Gross, head of the retail and fashion practice at Boyden, an executive search firm, told Bloomberg. “He really does understand how to differentiate one business from another.”
Brian Sozzi, a research analyst at Wall Street Strategies, said Mr. Johnson’s experience at Apple and Target would help in trying to reposition Penney.
“They are trying to become a cheap chic retailer and not just the ‘mom’ brand,” Mr. Sozzi told Reuters.
- J. C. Penney Company Names Ron Johnson as Its Next Chief Executive Officer, Effective November 1 – J.C. Penney Company, Inc./PRNewswire via COMTEX
- J.C. Penney Nabbing Johnson From Apple Sets ‘Huge Expectation’ – Bloomberg News
- Penney snags Apple retail executive as next CEO – Reuters
- Penney Picks Boss From Apple – The Wall Street Journal
Discussion Questions: What will Ron Johnson’s hiring mean for J.C. Penney? What will it mean for the department store channel?