After less than two years on the job, Apple’s former Senior Vice President of Retail Ron Johnson has left his position as CEO of J.C. Penney and will be replaced by his predecessor, Myron E. Ullman, III.
The news was first reported by CNBC.
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Meanwhile, Bloomberg’s Adam Satariano has noted that Sissie Twiggs, a former Apple manager that Johnson had recruited to J.C. Penney, is also out. In order to build his team, Johnson had tapped several of his ex-colleagues to join him at the retailer.
For about a decade, Johnson played a critical role in building Apple’s successful retail empire before leaving the company in November 2011. Apple co-founder Steve Jobs had personally recruited him from Target, where he helped the retailer turns its fortunes around. As such, Johnson was hoping for lightning to strike a third time with his plan to revitalize J.C. Penney’s flagging department store business.
Last January, Johnson unveiled his plan for the company in a dramatic full-page ad in the Wall Street Journal.
“We want to be the favorite store for everyone, for all Americans rich and poor, young and old. This isn’t your favorite department store. Our ambitions are much higher. We want to be your favorite store,” the ad read.
Since Johnson took over, shares of J.C. Penney had dropped over 50%. In the fourth quarter of 2012, the company reported a net loss of $552 million. At the time, Johnson had said:
Sales and customer traffic were below our expectations in 2012, but as we execute our ambitious transformation plan, we are pleased with the great strides we made to improve jcpenney’s cost structure, technology platforms and the overall customer experience. We have accomplished so much in the last twelve months. We believe the bold actions taken in 2012 will materially improve the Company’s long-term growth and profitability.
Interestingly, Johnson managed to last longer at J.C. Penney than his successor did at Apple. Former Dixons CEO John Browett took over as Apple’s SVP of Retail last April, but he left the company after just six months on the job. Earlier this year, Apple also lost a VP of Retail – Jerry Mcdougal, who had worked for the company since 2000 after being recruited by Johnson.
Given that Apple’s head of retail position is open again, speculation has emerged that he will take up his old position. He’s certainly a proven talent, but he may have to rebuild some bridges if he is to return.
Image credit: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images