Last year, Ron Johnson left Apple as Senior Vice President of Retail Operations to become J.C. Penney’s (JCP) CEO. Before joining Apple, he was at Target. As Gruber points out today, “The Ron Johnson Era at JC Penney Has Begun.”
Johnson took out a two-page ad in several major newspapers with the mission of turning JCP into your favorite store. This is an amazing leadership step that sets the tone and gives an extremely ambitious goal to its employees.
This amazes me because you can see how he’s cutting out the bullshit. With the realization that almost everything sold at JCP is on sale (~72% of the time, discounted over 50%), he’s getting rid of confusing sales. Everything will just be at the sale price without consumers deciphering “SALE 60% off” tags, “Save an Additional 40%” signs, etc. plastered everywhere. Also, he’s implementing about “100 sleek, neat sections” into stores.
As a consumer, I find it extremely hard to imagine a future scenario where JCP is my go-to choice for anything, let alone my favorite store. That doesn’t mean I can’t give Johnson points for trying. If my company was in mass market retail and needed to turn around sales, stealing an A-level player from Steve Job’s pick for retail operations is as good as it gets.
I don’t have any vested interests with JCP performing well or poorly. But given the choice, I’d like to see Johnson turnaround in real-time a company that most people have completely written off as irrelevant (like Apple ten years ago). It would make a good case study.