Former Apple VP Ron Johnson
Former Apple retailing VP Ron Johnson has been fired from JC Penney, the company he left Apple for in 2011. Mr. Johnson had been hired to turn JC Penney around, and he promised to reinvent the shopping experience. Customers were slow to embrace change, and sales, profits and JC Penney's stock all fell during Mr. Johnson's tenure.
Mr. Johnson had a successful career at discount retailer Target, and was credited with turning Target around and rebranding it a place to buy inexpensive, yet chic, merchandise. He left Target to join Apple when the late Steve Jobs hired him to build Apple's chain of Apple Store retail locations.
Over the next 11 years, the Apple Store chains became the most successful chain in the world, generating enormous profit and exposure for Apple. Mr. Johnson took that caché with him to JC Penney, but the company's board of directors apparently lost patience for the long-term changes he was instituting at the company.
JC Penney had been known for its sales promotions, and those sales were the first thing to go when Mr. Johnson took over the company. Customers didn't take kindly to that, and revenue and profits dropped. Mr. Johnson acknowledged that he had made some mistake, but said he was committed to further reinventing the shopping experience at JC Penney.
Part of that included developing stores-within-a-store inside the department store that emphasized the shopping experience. Customers apparently reacted well, but it wasn't enough to keep Mr. Johnson employed.
To add insult to injury, the man he replaced was tapped to come back. Mike Ullman, who left the company in in 2011, was named as the company's CEO (again).
CNBC published a statement from JC Penney that 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 JC Penney faces and take steps to improve the company's performance."