J.C. Penney is sweeping out the new

The beleaguered retailer's returning leader isn't wasting any time undoing the changes ousted CEO Ron Johnson made.

By Aimee Picchi Apr 11, 2013 12:15PM

Shoppers at a J.C. Penney store in New York, NY on October 23, 2009 (© Mark Lennihan/AP)By all accounts, ousted J.C. Penney (JCP) chief executive Ron Johnson made a royal mess of the century-old retailer. 

His replacement, Myron Ullman, isn't wasting time mopping up after him. 

Ullman has already reached out to Macy's (M) chief executive Terry Lundgren in an effort to settle the rival department store chain's potentially ruinous lawsuit over Martha Stewart-branded home goods, according to the New York Post.

On top of that, Penney has also parted ways with three top executives who, like Johnson, had previously worked at Apple (AAPL), CNBC reports. Johnson's management team of former Apple executives had reportedly caused some friction with long-term Penney employees. The new execs called those veterans DOPEs, for "dumb, old Penney employees," Bloomberg reports.

The three departing officials are chief operating officer Mike Kramer, chief talent officer Daniel Walker and chief creative officer Mike Fisher. Kramer resigned, but it's not clear whether Walker and Fisher left on their own accord, the piece adds. Fisher and Walker were among the former Apple executives who opted to fly in to Penney's Texas headquarters rather than to relocate. 

As for Ullman's approach to the Macy's debacle, it appears he's trying to cut the company's potentially massive losses. According to the Post, Ullman has offered to scrap Penney's 10-year agreement to produce towels and linens with the domestic diva's name.

That will likely come as a relief to Lundgren, who testified in the court case that he was "literally sick to (his) stomach" over Penney's deal with Stewart. 

Lundgren was Ullman's first call upon taking on the job, the Post says, a sign of how potentially damaging the lawsuit could be for Penney. If the judge sides with Macy's, which has a longstanding line of Stewart-branded home goods, Penney could lose up to $100 million on the liquidated merchandise, according to a Citi analyst report cited by CNBC.com.

Even with Ullman's concession, that doesn't necessarily mean Stewart will be absent from Penney stores. Ullman is said to be asking Lundgren for permission to sell at least the Stewart-designed items labeled "JCP Everyday" if it clears items directly bearing her name. 

Of course, Penney has a longer-term -- and bigger -- issue at hand. Johnson sought to remake Penney with younger, trendier clothes, but that has gone over about as well as decades-old fashions. A Kim Peterson wrote here Wednesday, Johnson didn't test his vision before putting it in place. Sales last year plunged 25%.

It remains to be seen whether Ullman will return to Penney's more typical clothing mix or bring back its beloved coupons and clearance racks. 

But if Ullman is paying attention to consumer research, it's likely that he will. After all, the majority of Penney's customers are older than 55, and one-third earn less than $35,000 a year, as Bloomberg Businessweek notes.

For those customers, Johnson's Pearl Georgina Chapman of Marchesa Peplum Lace Print Top, with a suggested retail price of $50, isn't going to fit the bill. 

More on moneyNOW

Apr 11, 2013 1:16PM
JC Penney needs to stick with what got them famous. Target the Middle and Lower classes with quality good. Let Macys handle the over priced name-brand items.
Apr 11, 2013 1:14PM
hopefully, corporate will realize that most of us are not a size 4...
Apr 11, 2013 1:31PM

You can't sacrifice your old customers in the hunt for new ones.  If you fail to listen to your market, you will fail.

Apr 11, 2013 1:37PM
If JC Penney brings back the brands that they ditched, St. John's Bay women's jeans for instance, I will think about shopping there again......but not until then.
Apr 11, 2013 1:57PM
Please, please go back to our favorite  JCP brands and at least give some consideration to your older customers with sizes larger than 4's.  Make it my go-to store again!
Apr 11, 2013 1:17PM
Pick a date to advertise your first new sale that will mean returning to the old ways, I am sure JCP will get some nice free publicity, and see some of their customer base come back. They can call the past 18 months there "New Coke" phase, now its time to return to classic.
Apr 11, 2013 1:49PM

I like some of the more trendy clothes that Penney's brought in, but it was a mistake to get rid of their standby's like St. John's Bay.  The less expensive & less trendy clothes were always their bread & butter, so it seems counter-intuitive to quit carrying the brands and values that made Penney's famous.


Apr 11, 2013 2:05PM
Apr 11, 2013 1:56PM


Apr 11, 2013 2:09PM
Love this news! We have been JCP customers for 50+ years and are really glad that JCP may return to being the company it had always been. A store with good quality merchandise at a price the average person can afford, plus we missed their weekly SALES!!! 
Bring back the catalogs, that was the most asked for during my time at jcp. 
Apr 11, 2013 1:39PM

good! i've always liked jcp and haven't been pleased with their new way of doing things. hopefully this guy can set it on the right track. ugh, get martha out of there! how is she able to have contracts with multiple companies, anyway?

Apr 11, 2013 1:21PM
Sounds like a better track. Now if Ullman will at least not publicize a tens of millions bonus and the layoff of hundreds of people nearly in the same moment. I am back with you. I never hated Penneys, only the new admin team. You are doing the right things to get us back.
Apr 11, 2013 2:05PM
JCP...Good company! SALES=give the customer a reason to buy!! Customers want to buy what THEY want, not what the CEO wants them to. Re-introduce business attire and leave the jeans/sneaker/tshirt look for Value Village and Burlington Coat Factory. Bring back the customer service of yesterday with any new technology for data capture. Total self service is not the answer. Customers still need help in several departments: namely shoes/jewelry/home/mens tailored clothing. Don't let the customer wander around confused by the "shop" concept. Bring the associate staff back to PRE Johnson time!
Apr 11, 2013 1:42PM

I don't shop at Penney's anymore. They are wasting energy on all the BRIGHT lighting they have installed. All their clothes are for the younger set (who do not shop at Penney's). Penney's used to be one of the OLD FAVORITES, not any more. I'm wondering IF "they can bring it back"? Hopefully they can.


Apr 11, 2013 2:54PM
First of all, it's about time you took out the trash!  I agree with some of the comments that you must bring back the old but you also must allow for the new.  Have a trendy section between woman's the juniors.  I do not like the new "store within a store" because if I go in to JCP for a shirt, I must go to all those individual boutiques just to pick up a shirt.  I agree with the comment of bring back St. John's Bay do not replace it with JCP brand (which sucks)!  Bring back the men's big & tall section!  Bring back nice quality leather purses - not the cheap vinyl with plastic lined by a designer no one has ever heard of!  Bring back White Sales and quality home goods.  Your customer base is 35+ year olds and middle to upper middle class.  We do not shop at Wal-Mart!  We shop at Khol's (your direct competition), TJMaxx and Target.  Now is your chance JCP for a clean slate but remember what the Girl Scouts always said: "Make new friends but keep the old - one is silver and the other gold." 
Apr 11, 2013 1:33PM

Clothes that fit the average person would be nice.  As well rid of the colage of clothing of the K-Mart area and the so called trendy pricing.  This type of store was orig. designed for the average person and not the trendy. 



Apr 11, 2013 2:08PM
Apr 11, 2013 1:49PM
There were problems when they brought in the guy frpm Apple. They are still there. JCP needed change that acknowledged existing customers and attempted to draw new ones. 
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