Ron Johnson out as JC Penney CEO, says source

“JC Penney CEO Ron Johnson is out, a source familiar with the situation said,” CNBC is reporting in a brief post.

“It was unclear if a successor has been named,” CNBC reports.

Source: CNBC.

MacDailyNews Take: Well, that was certainly short and sour.

Related articles:
Ron Johnson starting to look a lot more maniacal than brilliant – March 8, 2013
If JC Penney fires CEO Ron Johnson, analyst predicts bankruptcy – March 8, 2013
J.C. Penney CEO Ron Johnson cuts 2,200 more jobs as sales plunge – March 8, 2013
J.C. Penney posts large loss as sales sink further – February 27, 2013
JC Penney CEO Ron Johnson capitulates, brings back sales – January 28, 2013
Apple retail’s Ron Johnson and John Browett have proved the Peter Principle is alive and well – November 13, 2012
CEO Ron Johnson switches J.C. Penney to two-tier pricing with price-match guarantee – July 26, 2012
Why is Ron Johnson’s retail strategy for J.C. Penney failing? – June 26, 2012
J.C Penney’s stock tumbles after key exec’s abrupt exit – June 19, 2012
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

60 Comments

    1. Met Ron Johnson in 2004 while I was in Hawaii, talked a few minutes about a project that I was implementing. He was gracious and engaging and interested. Had a proposal prepared and presented to me by local business sales staff.

      Rather than take the deal direct, he wanted to make sure the people in Hawaii got the deal and the kudos. That is the quality of man he is.

      Move the clock to the SYD Apple Store opening. he came outside of the store to greet us diehards in the line.He saw me and pulled me out of line and we hugged and talked for about five minutes. He asked about my project and if I still wanted to do business with Apple in regards to it.

      That’s the quality of man he is. I’d like to see him back in the saddle and I am sure Tim Cook and Co. would too. He was highly regarded and respected there.

      All of you naysayers really haven’t a clue.

      Cheers.

      Hint: STD = Sydney Australia

  1. I’m sure he has a great marketing mind even though he was selling Apple products in their prime. I don’t know how much of the customer service perfection was due to Ron Johnson or Steve Jobs? Perhaps both? But I always thought that was a terrible decision for him to take on JCPenney and try to turn it around. And it was. Well, so much for reputation and legacy.

    1. The JC Penny turnaround was a monumental task. When I watched his investor presentation it was clear that this was not going to be quick. Not sure he understood that investors would turn on him. It’s sad but true that the market only understands the world in quarters.

      A seemingly simple thing like changing out POS display systems could take a decade across the entire network of stores. Changing out their customer base will take longer (but is ultimately just as necessary).

  2. Marketing is not a one-size fits-all body glove.
    Target had a good demographic to go after.
    Apple was in a class all of it own.
    Penny’s is smashed too tightly in mall settings between Sears, Dillards, Foleys and Macy’s with Kohls and Target located closer to the neighborhoods.

    It’s like that 3D piranha movie….they are getting eaten from all directions.

    1. I seem to recall Target being kind of stodgy and run down before Ron Johnson, just like JCP is today. I think his efforts brought the demographic to Target. JCP just got too scared, too quickly. I wonder how they will proceed, since the customer base that left is gone and the new one isn’t coming to be part of a half-done transition. Where are they going to recover to?

      1. I think Target saw a niche between Wal-Mart/K-Mart and Sears/Penney’s.

        Better quality than the former and more local than the latter.
        Ron Johnson made this market look upscale and chic to the middle class, and it worked.

        JCP is just in the middle of too many others trying to get the same buck. Their mall stores here in the South seem to be only partially busy, but the few local stores that I have been to seem to do much better traffic wise (at least when I am there).

        Since Target has never been a mall fixture, they were already in the neighborhoods. Maybe Penneys could buy up some abandoned pre-SuperCenter Wal-Mart stores?

        I don’t know. I have always had a weakness for Penney’s since my Mother worked for them back in the late ’60s (ironically, we lived across the street from a Target and shopped there regularly….), although I only spend about $200-500 a year there.

  3. When ego trumps caution the result is usually disaster. Many years ago I watched a new CEO implement a policy of switching a large IT corporation from its very successful direct sales business to a channel business. In three months he was gone, having lost every major account and, with it, all their business. The channel, already committed to bigger players just weren’t interested. The corporation closed its doors shortly after the CEO’s departure. It was in the late 90’s, the corporation was AST and the country was Australia.

  4. Margaret Thatcher died today as well.

    “She turned the Conservatives, long associated with the status quo, into the party of reform. Her policies revitalized British business, spurred industrial growth and swelled the middle class.” – NY Times, April 9, 2013

    We could use some of that stuff today!

    1. Thatcher mortgaged the UK’s future. The so-called “new middle class” was built on personal debt. The first wave of Thatcherism failed in the early 90s with the massive fall in the value of the Pound coupled with record business bankruptcies and house repossessions, the second was that the British economy’s industrial base was wiped out in favour of the entire country becoming financial middle-ware.

      Look where that has gotten us. We now import just about everything and even our much-lauded banks are all but ruined.

      Some leader eh? If you really want to wish that future on your kids you can’t like them very much.

        1. “Where we were” was before the North Sea Oil money started flowing. Even a government as financially incompetent as Thatcher’s can engineer a boom when the oil is pumping at a couple of million barrels a day. It doesn’t last though, as we’ve discovered.

          We used to compete with Germany. These days we struggle to compete with Italy. What needed reform was instead destroyed, purely for ideology.

          1. Really? Germany? What did England of 1978 have in common with Germany of 2013?

            Thatcher has been out of power for 23 YEARS!!!!!!
            If you can’t fix her supposed ‘wrongs’ in that time, then y’all are more incompetent that our Democrats blaming Bush 5 years later.

            I swear, hearing revisionist look at charts and study from afar to make the correlation’s that fit THEIR ideology is the New Left’s History lesson.

            I guess you believe Reagan didn’t do anything right, either?
            Nothing with the economy, the military, the USSR?

      1. That’s what he said….she was great, like Reagan.

        And if you have to rely on reports, then you are too young to have grown up and watch them change the world.

        So many Monday morning couch quarterbacks, so few who are in the zone…..

      2. I had a hell of a lot more job opportunities when Reagan was in office. If you didn’t like your job you just got another. Now you sit where you are regardless of misery or low pay and be thankful you’re working at all.

  5. Too bad. He had some great ideas but few employees who understood them, much less the desire to implement them. It’s just an old, tired company with a confused product line-up. He was bold to try. Harvard Business School should take his introductory presentation to the financial community and use it as a case study on the difficulty of bringing brilliance into an existing organization.

    1. You’re wrong GoldDuster. It’s pretty easy to say that’s the case but it’s not. Apple stores have the highest output in dollars per square foot in retail in part due to Ron.

      Nothing you can say can take that away, his concept indeed helped get the ‘retail’ out of the way, and show the products in the most effective, yet elegant way.

      His concepts, including the Genius Bar, appealed, and continue to appeal to many as can be evidenced by the immense dollars coming from Apple Retail today.

    2. Yeah, GoldDuster, you are wrong about Ron Johnson. He was the genius behind the remarketing of Target before he came to Apple, and his vision for the Apple stores was critical to their success. He is a quality guy – he actually invested millions of dollars of his own money into JCP – and he deserved a much better fate. Heck, I hadn’t darkened the door of a Penney’s in over 20 years, but even I walked back in and bought some stuff. Tim Cook needs to very seriously look at recruiting the guy back to Apple.

      1. mmmmmm not a good idea to bring him back. I’m with you, I believe that he was at least in part responsible for the success of the Apple retail stores. And did very well for Target. But I don’t believe he deserves a better fate. He’s a big boy. He knew what he was taking on. Or he should have. Most of us could see that it was a nearly insurmountable task to turn around JCPenney. JCPenney isn’t target. That comparison can’t be made. Target stores are nimble and didn’t need complete overhauls as do JCPenney stores. If he could’ve done that over a long period of time then perhaps he could have stayed. If the turnaround plan needed a rapid deployment then it was a flawed and doomed to fail plan. Sometimes reality is a bitch.

        1. Maybe everyone doesn’t deserve a second chance, but Steve Jobs got one, and look what he was able to accomplish. Ron Johnson is golden, even if he was tripped on the way to the sluice box and came out tarnished. Bring him back. Who knows—Tim Cook might be more open to advice after bungling Johnson’s replacement.

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