JC Penney CEO Out After Sales Plummet, Effective Immediately

JC Penney’s CEO out, and Ron Johnson is the latest casualty of the flagging mall chain’s declining fortunes.

News the JC Penney CEO is out at the nationwide department store is not really a surprise, given some poor performance over the last few quarters and difficulty hitting a retail stride in a changing consumer landscape.

Johnson presided over JC Penney across a long period of bad news, beginning with the decision to totally eliminate sales back in early 2012. Following that were accusations of price trickery to create a false impression of markdowns, and an eventual return to standard retail and sale pricing.

But the reversal was not enough to boost JC Penney’s faltering performance this year, and the New York Timessaid earlier in 2013 after an earnings call:

“It is hard to call J.C. Penney’s latest quarterly report anything but breathtakingly bad. The retailer lost $552 million for the quarter, which at $1.95 a share on an adjusted basis far exceeded the 17-cent loss that analysts had been expecting. Same-store sales tumbled nearly 32 percent from the period a year earlier … Shares in the company were down nearly 9 percent in after-hours trading.”

CEO Ron Johnson’s exit was announced earlier today by CNBC, and confirmed in the following press release:

The Board of Directors of J.C. Penney Company, Inc. [NYSE: JCP], today announced that Myron E. (Mike) Ullman, III has rejoined the Company as Chief Executive Officer, effective immediately. He has also been elected to the Board of Directors. Mr. Ullman is a highly accomplished retail industry executive, who served as CEO of jcpenney until late 2011. He succeeds Ron Johnson, who is stepping down and leaving the Company.

Thomas Engibous, Chairman of the Company’s Board of Directors, said, “We are fortunate to have someone with Mike’s proven experience and leadership abilities to take the reins at the Company at this important time. He is well-positioned to quickly analyze the situation jcpenney faces and take steps to improve the Company’s performance.”

Mr. Ullman added, “While jcpenney has faced a difficult period, its legacy as a leader in American retailing is an asset that can be built upon and leveraged. To that end, my plan is to immediately engage with the Company’s customers, team members, vendors, and shareholders, to understand their needs, views, and insights. With that knowledge, I will work with the leadership team and the Board to develop and clearly articulate a game plan to establish a foundation for future success.”

Mr. Engibous added, “On behalf of the Board of Directors, we would like to thank Ron Johnson for his contributions while at jcpenney and wish him the best in his future endeavors.”