No one wants to run J.C. Penney

The company's looking for a new CEO, but everyone it approaches balks at the lack of resources, according to a former director.

By Kim Peterson Aug 23, 2013 2:44PM
Customer Service counter at the J.C. Penney store in Westminster, Colorado on February 20, 2009 (© RICK WILKING/Newscom/RTR)Wanted: One CEO for a damaged, fading retail brand that has seen its stock price tumble and its operations dissolve into disarray.

That's the job J.C. Penney (JCP) is trying to sell, but -- just as with the $3,000 sectional couches in its stores -- no one is buying. The company's CEO search is coming up empty, according to Bill Ackman, the hedge fund manager who quit the board last week.

It's not that the company's previous CEO, Ron Johnson, left shoes too big to fill after he was fired in April. Instead, according to Ackman, J.C. Penney doesn't have enough cash or other resources for a decent CEO to work with.

'We were unable to attract a long-term CEO at the time we replaced Ron because the company needed capital and the CEO candidates we approached would not come on board without the company having adequate financial resources," Ackman said in the letter sent to his hedge fund investors this week, according to The Huffington Post.

That leaves interim CEO Mike Ullman continuing in his position. And Ullman has plenty on his hands, with his efforts to undo some of Johnson's policies and reverse strategies mid-course.

To see what a new CEO would be taking on, let's take a peek at the company's last reported quarter. Sales, already battered after Johnson's disastrous pricing experiments, fell nearly 12% from a year earlier to $2.66 billion. Profit was nowhere to be found; instead the company lost nearly $600 million in just three months. And revenue at stores open a year -- a crucial metric for the retail industry -- fell 11.9% on top of a 21.7% plunge a year ago.

So who would take this job? Someone who is crazy, desperate or has been offered a giant truckload of cash. Hopefully Penney has been stashing some dollars in its $5,800 S&F Christiana Plush king mattresses.

More on moneyNOW

Aug 23, 2013 3:10PM
Nobody will take that job? I'll take that job, and make a career out of it. How hard can it be?  I have worked for years doing amazing things with a tiny budget, and I won't even charge JCP a sign on bonus and executive perks.  Want to hire someone with common sense JCP? Give me a call.
Aug 23, 2013 3:21PM
I could turn JC Penny's around in one year, no problem.  All it takes is simple common sense, something that is extremely lacking in this country these days!
Aug 23, 2013 4:01PM

They haven't asked me. The first thing I'd do is bring back the old tee shirts. The heavy cotton ones that lasted forever and fit great.


I'd make the store a basics place where good value was a balance of price and quality.


I'll send in my resume now.

Aug 23, 2013 6:09PM
James C Penney started the company on the philosophy of a good product with a good price.  JCP should go  back to basics, get American made products to a good standard.  That is what they used to do but they got caught up into the Walmart idea of foreign made products that don't hold up to mothers standards.
Aug 23, 2013 3:54PM
In Buffalo 2 weeks ago; a lot of customers with purchases, just as there has been in Phoenix the last several months. JCP SHOULD'NT waste a lot of money on a CEO or many times have we seen these CEO's and CFO's take the money and run. Find someone up to the challenge willing to be paid for performance; not someone who gets paid a ton from the start with a built in excuse if it fails.  And, what's with listening to Ackman; he's the reason JCP is where it is at. The guy has proven to be nothing more than a finger pointing crybaby.
Aug 23, 2013 4:03PM
Where do I send my resume....I run a company right now and have survived years of a crummy economy, having to lay off only the bare minimum of employees and keeping the remaining employees motivated enough to give an honest day's worth of work.  By the way, my salary is not in the millions of dollars like the JC Penney CEO so like I said....where do i send my resume to???
Aug 23, 2013 4:36PM
I can tell Penny's how to turn things around and make people want to shop there again. Go back to doing things like they were done a few years ago before all the stupid changes  they made. Have sales and advertise them.Carry a wider slection that fits all age groups instead of just catering to the young people. I have plenty of more ideas to help if you need some........
Aug 23, 2013 4:48PM

You mean to tell me, that there isn't a CEO worthy prospect out there to take this job, and do it with no promise of millions of $$$$ and all the other fringe benefits that bullcrapp overpaid CEO thieves get?!



Aug 23, 2013 4:42PM
I've shopped at JCP for over 40 years but have not been in a store for well over a year now. Cheap, overpriced merchandise, outdated styles, poorly made knockoffs, substandard materials have made me unable to find anything I actually would purchase.  All around me I see businesses falling apart and self-destructing due to incompetent fiinancial management and short-term monetary schemes.  I have worked within budgets and managed several operations during my lifetime and seem to have a good grasp on financial aspects of running a business.  Considering I would manage the company at a reasonable rate of compensation and provide a well-trained, motivated staff, I just need to know where to send my resume.
Aug 23, 2013 3:34PM
I would, could and have a proven track record of growth. There's a jobs blockade and shun of people with commonsense and actual skill sets and experience. Apparently, we are at the mercy of Twitter Psychopaths and Colluding Alumni. In other words... we're doomed to fail.
Aug 23, 2013 4:49PM
Where do I sign up? I'll take the job.

I'll make JCP #1 

With some good Ole Common Sense!!

Side note: I have 3+ years managing in the shipping/export business.
So give me 1 month to understand the system and another month to start the improvements immediately.
And I'll also Make sure JCP is #1 on the next years Most generous list. 
Aug 23, 2013 5:59PM

I took my kids to Penney's for back to school shopping last week and it was awesome!  The prices were excellent, the clothes were what my girls wanted, and I earned rewards, too.  Because I was using my JCP credit card, I got to bypass the regular check-out line and a clerk rang up my sale on her smart phone.  She made sure I got all the discounts and coupons I was entitled to.  It was a great experience.  I am definitely going back.  I also love the hair salon.  I just got the best hair cut/style, ever.  And it cost no where near what I used to pay at Gene Juarez, located in the same mall. 


If you are skeptical, this shopper gives JCP the big thumbs up.  If you haven't been there in a while, give it a try!

Aug 23, 2013 6:05PM
It appears the firm won't recover from the Johnson fiasco. I  question the inability to find a retail CEO who can put JCP back on a stable footing without unlimited resources. After all, that's the same management philosophy that took the firm to where it is now.
Aug 23, 2013 4:42PM
I'll take the job. After working 20 years for non-profits, I know how to operate a company on a tight budget.
Aug 23, 2013 5:13PM

but where else will i find my favorite style of shirt that actaully fits D:


seriously JCP is the only place that I know of that sells TALL verieties of casual shirts... i need that extra lenght...

Aug 23, 2013 4:26PM
I have never been in retail, I've never been a politician,  I am a business outsider.  I am perfect for the job, vote for me.
Aug 23, 2013 4:09PM
i'll take it. please give me a shot. just call!
Aug 26, 2013 8:28AM
I used to love JCP but since they turned all of them into a dorm room showroom with all the bright colors.  Who does that in their home?  I mean really, teal, bright yellow, fuschia, great for dorm rooms, not for a normal home.  You can't even get a towel in a decent regular color or for that matter, sheets.  I have a JCP card and have been a customer for 30 plus years.  I very rarely go there anymore, they downsized the women's department to a few racks stuck in the back so they can prominently display the size 0's that only a few anerexic girls can fit in, but those clothes sure look good on the mannequins.
Aug 23, 2013 4:45PM
Some commenters are short sided that would like Penneys to fail.
Aug 26, 2013 6:51AM

Went there the other day to buy several colors of polo shirts they had on sale..When I got there they only had 2x size in one shirt and only 2 colors....went into the catalog to order them and they were out of sizes and colors in the catalog,,,,they have become a pretty worthless place to shop. Too bad !!!

I used to buy almost everything there and now I buy very little.

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