“J.C. Penney’s shares are tumbling a day after the department store chain announced the sudden departure of Michael Francis, a former top Target executive brought in last October to help redefine Penney’s brand,” Anne d’Innocenzio reports for The Associated Press.

“Penney’s terse statement Monday gave no reason for Francis’s exit. As president, he was responsible for marketing a new pricing plan that the company says replaced hundreds of sales events per year with lower prices overall as of Feb. 1,” d’Innocenzio reports. “Francis also oversaw merchandising and product development and played a big role in signing up new brands as part of larger plan to transform the company under its new CEO, Ron Johnson.”

d’Innocenzio reports, “The departure is the latest sign of tumult at J.C. Penney, which last month reported a bigger loss than expected and a 20 percent drop in revenue as shoppers fled in confusion over the new pricing strategy, which Johnson spearheaded. During presentations at a recent industry conference this month and following the first-quarter earnings report, Johnson continued to back his pricing strategy, saying the problem was that Penney’s marketing didn’t clearly spell it out. ‘Our marketing, while it is gaining a lot of mind share, is not doing the work it (must) to communicate our pricing strategy and to drive our traffic,’ Johnson told investors last month. With Francis’s departure, Johnson, who came to Penney from Apple Inc., will assume direct responsibility for and oversight of marketing and merchandising.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: The current situation makes you wonder if Johnson’s prior success was more about the extraordinary products he was given to sell by Steve Jobs, Jony Ive, and Tim Cook than with his innate retailing abilities.

While we’re not ready to give up on him just yet, there no denying that, so far, Johnson’s reign at Penney’s has been Elopian.

Related articles:
J.C. Penney reports loss and plummeting sales in 1Q – May 15, 2012
Why Ron Johnson left Apple to head JC Penney – April 30, 2012
J.C. Penney lures another executive from Apple – April 26, 2012
Steve Jobs’ ex-lieutenant Ron Johnson adds $1.5 billion to J.C. Penney in two days – January 30, 2012
J.C. Penney CEO Ron Johnson: What I learned building the Apple Store – November 21, 2011
New J.C. Penney CEO Johnson hiring former Apple co-workers – November 9, 2011
Why Apple’s retail genius Ron Johnson is paying for the privilege of running J.C. Penney – June 15, 2011
Apple’s retail store chief Johnson off to J.C. Penney; expected to become CEO within months – June 14, 2011