Ron Johnson Poaches Apple Exec for J.C. Penney

Former Apple darling Ron Johnson has, for the first time, poached from his former employer executive ranks for the company he now runs, J.C. Penney. The department store chain announced on Thursday that it hired Benjamin Fay, who was used to work under Ron Johnson at Apple, and served as senior director of retail real estate, design and development.

Poaching Apple

Poaching Apple

Mr. Fay will be getting a new title at J.C. Penney, serving as executive vice president of real estate, store design and development, a significant step up from a senior director.

“Ben is an incredibly creative professional with extraordinary leadership skills. Having worked with him over the last 12 years, I am delighted to see Ben step into this new role at [J.C. Penney],” Ron Johnson said in a statement. “His design influence has made the Apple stores highly regarded retail destinations around the world, and I am excited to have Ben place his own mark on [J.C. Penney] as we re-imagine the [J.C. Penney] store of the future.”

As our friends at MacRumors noted, Mr. Johnson has already collected a number of Apple veterans for his new executive team at J.C. Penney, but heretofore they’ve all been people who had already moved on from Apple into other companies when they were recruited by J.C. Penney. With Mr. Fay, however, J.C. Penney has targeted someone still working at Mr. Johnson’s alma mater.

The twelve years Mr. Johnson referred to in his statement include eight years as senior director for Apple. The four years before that were spent at architecture firm Gensler working on Apple’s early Apple Store development efforts.

In the meanwhile, Mr. Fay’s departure means that Apple’s incoming senior vice president of retail, John Browett, has a new vacancy to fill.

Ron Johnson took the job with J.C. Penney in June of 2011, but stayed with Apple until November to facilitate a clean transition.

Poaching image made with help from Shutterstock.