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JC Penney nabs Apple retail chief to become its new chief executive

post #1 of 58
Thread Starter 
The head of Apple's retail operations, Ron Johnson, is set to depart Apple and will become the new president and chief executive of retailer J.C. Penney.

Johnson, who played an instrumental role in the success of Apple's retail stores since the first one opened 10 years ago, will take over as the new head of J.C. Penney Company on Nov. 1, the company revealed on Tuesday. Johnson has spent the last 11 years as senior vice president of retail at Apple.

"I've always dreamed of leading a major retail company as CEO, and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to help J. C. Penney re-imagine what I believe to be the single greatest opportunity in American retailing today, the department store," Johnson said in a statement. I have tremendous confidence in J.C. Penney's future and look forward to working with (current CEO) Mike Ullman, the executive board and the company's 150,000 associates to transform the way America shops."

Prior to his work at Apple, Johnson spent 15 years at Target, where he served as a key merchandising executive. He received his MBA from Harvard Business School, and a Bachelor of Arts in economics at Stanford.

Johnson's hiring is part of a succession planning process in place as Ullman prepares to become the company's executive chairman. Effective Aug. 1 of this year, Johnson will also join J.C. Penney's board of directors.

"I am delighted that Ron is joining our board and the company, and look forward to working with him as we continue to transform the J.C. Penney brand," Ullman said. "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. His tremendous accomplishments at Apple and Target speak to his great consumer merchandising, marketing and operational talent."



Late last year, Johnson took receipt of his third mega-million dollar payday in as many years, exercising 150,000 AAPL stock options. He cleared a whopping $44.2 million in profit before taxes.

Prior to that, in March, he moved 200,000 options for a profit of roughly $46 million, and in 2007, he netted nearly $113 million from selling 700,000 shares of common stock.

Johnson was lured away from Target by Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs in 2000 to spearhead the company's fledgeling retail business. He's renowned not only for crafting an international chain of retail stores that are among the world's most profitable per square foot, but also for pioneering the extremely successful "Genius Bar" concept found inside those stores, in the face of initial stiff opposition from Jobs.
post #2 of 58
SO J C WILL now have apple products galore

cool

9
whats in a name ? 
beatles
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whats in a name ? 
beatles
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post #3 of 58
Wow, really? He'd rather work for JC Penny than Apple? Ok....
post #4 of 58
Big loss for Apple... Best of luck to him.
post #5 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by ArchAngel21x View Post

Wow, really? He'd rather work for JC Penny than Apple? Ok....

I think he'd rather be a CEO than a VP his whole life. There was nowhere else for him to go inside Apple, and he doesn't really have anything else to prove, seeing how successful Apple's retail business consistently is.
post #6 of 58
What is he going to do? Make genius bars at JC Penny to help people color coordinate their clothing?

He certainly seems to have made a shitload of dough working for Apple. Hundreds of millions in cash for 10 years work is not too shabby.
post #7 of 58
AppleInsider, what you could not give me credit for posting before you did

http://forums.appleinsider.com/showthread.php?t=126313
post #8 of 58
what a great short opportunity. I can't imagine it sustaining an 18% increase for long
post #9 of 58
Ron Johnson is a genius in my eyes. His leadership and knowledge in developing the retail stores is and will always have been impossible to replace. As an investor in Apple, and a big fan of their stores and products. I along with anyone who understands the challenges of retail, wish him the best and will surely want to thank him for all that he has done for Apple and the world of consumer electronics.

He will be missed. But growth and personal development of the individual has its place in a team of talented people like we enjoy observing at Apple. It was an opportunity he could not pass up I am sure.

Thanks Ron for all you have done to make walking into an Apple store absolutely an amazing experience.

sincerely,

a grateful CE fan.
post #10 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by ArchAngel21x View Post

Wow, really? He'd rather work for JC Penny than Apple? Ok....

Actually yes. Johnson's passion is in taking screwed up retail situations and turning them around. He's done his job with Apple and has likely been training his underlings to keep it going for the last year or two. They don't need him anymore.

JC Penny on the other hand, needs him. A lot. They are horrid. So now he'll have the challenge that he enjoys and looks for.

And Apple is likely totally in support of it. Cause that's their style. They like to get rid of folks for bigger and better, which for Johnson this would be. It also shows how awesome they are that everyone wants their peeps.

A non tech's thoughts on Apple stuff 

(She's family so I'm a little biased)

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A non tech's thoughts on Apple stuff 

(She's family so I'm a little biased)

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post #11 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by ArchAngel21x View Post

Wow, really? He'd rather work for JC Penny than Apple? Ok....

Apple is doing quite well nowadays, so he just might be interested in joining an aging company and help revitalize them.
post #12 of 58
This is a sad day for Apple fans, myself included. I wish Mr. Johnson the best of luck in his new venture. He'll probably need it: Penny's has been sliding downhill for decades now, and the department store concept seems to belong to the 20th century IMHO. If he can bring it back, and save hundreds of thousands of jobs, then he is a hero. If anyone can do it, Mr. Johnson can. I hope/pray his departure with Apple will be amicable, and that the two companies can come up with some great tie-ins together!
Still looking for a witty comment to put here.
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post #13 of 58
It is fascinating to think what a guy like that would do with JC Penny. Contrary to what many people think, guys like him are needed at for example macy's and JC Penny in order for those out-of-date stores to relate to new customers. He clearly knows how to get rid of clutter and conflict. It's not super expensive. But it does require design sense and placement sense.
post #14 of 58
It will be interesting to see what happens to JC Penny. Personally, I think Sears could use him more. I guess all of these department stores really need a bit of fresh blood though.
post #15 of 58
He'll regret that decision!!!! What a loser!
post #16 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by ArchAngel21x View Post

Wow, really? He'd rather work for JC Penny than Apple? Ok....


New challenge my man, new challenge. Besides, he already got millions from Apple so what he need next is that CEO title.

Quote:
Originally Posted by esummers View Post

It will be interesting to see what happens to JC Penny. Personally, I think Sears could use him more. I guess all of these department stores really need a bit of fresh blood though.

IMO, department stores is the way forward. With high street shops closing and driven out of business by large out of town supermarkets, city centres need a large one roof solution to save them.
post #17 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by massconn72 View Post

He'll regret that decision!!!! What a loser!

What an insensitive and horrible thing to say about a man who's been a huge contributed to Apple's success over the past 10 years. My suggestion, you STFU, and troll elsewhere.

Good luck RJ.
post #18 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by massconn72 View Post

He'll regret that decision!!!! What a loser!

You can thank him for the Apple Store and the Genius Bar.

The man probably realizes he's done as much good as he can for Apple and it's time to move on. He can take the easy route and just sit cozy at Apple, or start fresh with trying to help modernize and re-popularize JC Penny.
post #19 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by massconn72 View Post

He'll regret that decision!!!! What a loser!

I consider him a winner myself.

Now yourself, well, that's another matter.
post #20 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by esummers View Post

It will be interesting to see what happens to JC Penny. Personally, I think Sears could use him more. I guess all of these department stores really need a bit of fresh blood though.

That was my thought exactly. Sears is a venerated American brand with a strong identity as a general goods retailer that seems to kind have lost their way.

I think there would have been more upside for an innovative Sears makeover that played to their iconic strengths than there will ever be for JC Penny, which is..... a department store? With some mediocre "celebrity" women's fashion lines?

Sears has a pretty decent value priced clothing lineup (who doesn't?) but they also have a strong guy thing with their Craftsmen tools and home improvement sections, plus well regarded Kenmore appliance range, plus a relatively well stocked home entertainment section, plus things like in store optometry/we have everything that have been co-opted by folks like Target.

Sears could have been Target with much better tools and home improvement, better clothes, plus excellent appliances, all within a folksier, "Americana" vibe that presented itself as a 21st century general store. I don't know if JC Penny has the foundations to make anything interesting, but if anyone can do it I guess it's Johnson.
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post #21 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by esummers View Post

It will be interesting to see what happens to JC Penny. Personally, I think Sears could use him more. I guess all of these department stores really need a bit of fresh blood though.

Yeah, Sears would almost seem a bit more if a fit.

Sears is more varied in what they carry. Electronics, quality appliances, solid tools, etc as well as the stuff Penneys has.
post #22 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by massconn72 View Post

He'll regret that decision!!!! What a loser!

In the event you were actually serious about your remark, why don't you give us the pleasure of comparing your bank account balance to his? You seem to have an insight as to what constitutes a loser...
post #23 of 58
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Originally Posted by Apple ][ View Post

He certainly seems to have made a shitload of dough working for Apple.

Are you making a value judgment?
post #24 of 58
The genius is Ron.

The genius bar is what makes Apple retail stores so powerful, imo.
Love Steve, but I wonder if he can admit that Ron was correct. Actually he must have admitted it already as he let Ron do it.
I can see that Ron is looking for a new challenge. He really doesn't need more money. I could live quite comfortably off what he pulled in from Apple.
Good luck Ron and thanks so much!
post #25 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by Apple ][ View Post

What is he going to do? Make genius bars at JC Penny to help people color coordinate their clothing?

He certainly seems to have made a shitload of dough working for Apple. Hundreds of millions in cash for 10 years work is not too shabby.

FWIW: Actually Penny's has - for one thing - a fairly competent home decorating department who can help you put together packages of window treatments and much more (which I've used several times with good results). So one could see them becoming more service-oriented.

And I can see the attraction of running a whole corporate show to cap off a distinguished career - worth more on someone's scale of personal values than any financial inducements Apple could offer to keep him.

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post #26 of 58
Assuming for some reason that Sears was even an option, it's just too easy. IMO, if he was looking for a challenge, he picked the right company.
post #27 of 58
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Originally Posted by brutus009 View Post

Assuming for some reason that Sears was even an option, it's just too easy. IMO, if he was looking for a challenge, he picked the right company.

I disagree, Sears is coasting if not wandering into the weeds. But the significant thing is that there's a lot to work with. Penny's would seem to be, at the moment, close to a generic blank slate, which is maybe what he was looking for. But the problem there is trying to build a brand in the already supersaturated and competitive general goods brick and mortar retail market.

You've got Costco and Walmart soaking up the dollars at the super price sensitive end, Target doing great business in the low to mid segment and folks like Macy's happy to anchor your next mall.

Penny's is just sort of middling meh. They may have some residually loyalty from an older demographic, but there's no growth to be had from that quarter. If anything, the Penny's name is a boat anchor at this point, suggesting to anyone under 40 a kind of fluorescent lit old people's hell.

So, yeah, a challenge, but maybe too much of a challenge IMO. Sears, on the other hand, could be rebooted by skipping the 70s associations and going straight to "classic." Simple, sturdy, good value, great services. I think Sears still has some of those associations, and it's something to build on.

If I were Johnson I'd probably jettison the "Penny's" name altogether and just start over-- which I suppose might be what he wants to do. I just don't think it's possible.
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post #28 of 58
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Originally Posted by addabox View Post

So, yeah, a challenge, but maybe too much of a challenge IMO. Sears, on the other hand, could be rebooted by skipping the 70s associations and going straight to "classic." Simple, sturdy, good value, great services. I think Sears still has some of those associations, and it's something to build on.

If I were Johnson I'd probably jettison the "Penny's" name altogether and just start over-- which I suppose might be what he wants to do. I just don't think it's possible.

I agree with what you say but Penny's does have 1,100 stores and some massive number of employees. Yes it needs a reboot. Yes it has a lack of an image. But people need clothes. I still agree with you that Sears has the ingredients for a winner. Maybe some other executive will make it happen. Penny's I dunno. It would be nice to think something positive but I am not sure what I can say about this.
post #29 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by Splash-reverse View Post

IMO, department stores is the way forward. With high street shops closing and driven out of business by large out of town supermarkets, city centres need a large one roof solution to save them.

I don't see how. The economy is still pretty bad, people are driving less and spending less when they do go out. And is JC Penney going to somehow outperform Walmart?
post #30 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by addabox View Post

So, yeah, a challenge, but maybe too much of a challenge IMO. Sears, on the other hand, could be rebooted by skipping the 70s associations and going straight to "classic." Simple, sturdy, good value, great services. I think Sears still has some of those associations, and it's something to build on.

I'd reboot Sears as "modern," not "classic." What I'd do is fund a massive internet campaign to compete directly with Amazon, but then use the leverage of the stores to allow pickups, returns via the stores, something Amazon can't compete with. I'd further use the stores to offer installations and other home services that Amazon can't compete with as only a warehouse entity.
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post #31 of 58
The one thing JC Penny's has that Sears doesn't is a higher price point. This may not be entirely true in terms of product pricing or quality, but rather brand image. I can see JC Penny's becoming a lower class Lord and Taylor (that's the really expensive one, right?) that makes consumers feel luxurious while remaining budget-oriented. Kind of how people pay a little more money when they believe they're getting a better product, despite not needing any of the additional features.

I really have no idea about department stores though these days; take my input with a grain of salt.
post #32 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

I'd reboot Sears as "modern," not "classic." What I'd do is fund a massive internet campaign to compete directly with Amazon, but then use the leverage of the stores to allow pickups, returns via the stores, something Amazon can't compete with. I'd further use the stores to offer installations and other home services that Amazon can't compete with as only a warehouse entity.

I'd hold out for some kind of classic thing, since I think that lines up with the current zeitgeist of simplification and belt tightening as "American values." But I completely agree that if they were going to do that it should include heavy emphasis on services.

Interestingly, at one time Sears was known for exactly that, but in recent years they've dropped the ball. They've contracted out to a lot of third parties for warranty and shipping services, so when something goes wrong and you expect Sears to stand behind "their" product you find out you're dealing with someone else.

Get the CEO to do frank spoken TV spots about how Sears is a part of American history and how they're committed to bringing back that level of service and support. Admit that they've strayed and explain how they're going to get it right. The pieces are there-- they have extensive in home appliance installation services, delivery, in-store pickup that involves something more than parking in a parking lot and hauling shit to your car, etc.

I don't think Penny's has any story to tell at all. The best they can hope for is "We're Penny's, which you may are may not remember or have every been inside of one, but we're nicer than we were." Even if they make it splendid, who's going to know or care?
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post #33 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by brutus009 View Post

The one thing JC Penny's has that Sears doesn't is a higher price point. This may not be entirely true in terms of product pricing or quality, but rather brand image. I can see JC Penny's becoming a lower class Lord and Taylor (that's the really expensive one, right?) that makes consumers feel luxurious while remaining budget-oriented. Kind of how people pay a little more money when they believe they're getting a better product, despite not needing any of the additional features.

I really have no idea about department stores though these days; take my input with a grain of salt.

Interesting. I don't know anyone who associates "Penny's" with much in the way of upscale, but that's probably because I live in the Bay Area and there aren't many around.

I must admit it would be unwise to count Johnson out-- Target and the Apple Store are two huge success stories, and they both benefit from a singular vision and focused execution. I kind of love the current Target, and it does a great job of positioning itself as "the Walmart you shop at if you don't mind paying a few cents more and have a shred of human dignity left."

So maybe he could do a similar upgrade to the Penny's brand. I wouldn't shoot for something as narrow as Lord and Taylor though-- more like Macy's say, or with a very strong "store within store" vibe to the various departments.
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post #34 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by Joseph L View Post

If this friigin' idiot thinks that JC Penney is going to have more opportunities for him than Apple, then I say GOOD RIDDANCE!!!

After Steve rescued him from Target? Now he wants to go back to a discounter? He has no loyalty and even less sense.

He's a moron and a bum. GOOD RIDDANCE!


Uh... look pooky... Target will probably be around in 2050 when Apple is just a memory.
post #35 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by ArchAngel21x View Post

Wow, really? He'd rather work for JC Penny than Apple? Ok....

That was my reaction!
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post #36 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by addabox View Post


I don't think Penny's has any story to tell at all. The best they can hope for is "We're Penny's, which you may are may not remember or have every been inside of one, but we're nicer than we were." Even if they make it splendid, who's going to know or care?


The entire dept store model is not doing great. He may be thinking, if he can out-perform Macy's, actually build a much better store and experience than Macy's, he can win the broad middle dept store industry.

Nordstrom, Saks, Neiman Marcus are too expensive for most people. The broad region below them is poorly served today IMHO. The middle class probably doesn't buy clothes at Target. If JC Penny can be their best store, it can get a position that way.

I agree Sears is the classic brand. People love tools and classic American rugged products. Old American tools are considered porn now. There are other companies to cover Modern. Sears needs to cover tools, work clothes, home appliances, etc. They need to forget about selling televisions and high fashion clothes.
post #37 of 58
Who shops at JC Penny anymore? Walmart & Target crush them on the bottom end and places like Nordstom have the high end. JC Penny is in the middle, but I don't know....for me they just have a crappy brand name and I won't get over that unless he remakes over every single store and goes more upscale.
post #38 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by bwik View Post

Uh... look pooky... Target will probably be around in 2050 when Apple is just a memory.

Which is more moronic, the above post or the quoted text?

I... can't... decide...
post #39 of 58
I understand Apple has more money than Target, but which is the more stable business... technology products (invented each year!) or groceries / dry goods... I would pick Target
post #40 of 58
First thing: replace all ceramic tiles with wooden floors.

Second, no racks. All clothes to be folded on wooden tables.

Third, each department has no more than 5 tables.

Fourth, logo becomes a JC shaped like a penny.

Fifth, moar chrome!

Sixth, jeans. Single color t-shirts. At least one attractive member of every race and gender on the floor.

Seventh, no fat chicks.

Eighth, leave and do the same thing to K-Mart in a decade.
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