If you need a lesson in company transformation and rebranding, you probably won’t be taking it from the recently ousted Penney CEO and former Apple retail operations Senior Vice President, Ron Johnson – at least, J.C. Penney doesn’t think so. In the last week, the retailer’s 17-month long nosedive into the red courtesy of Johnson’s vision has been discussed ad nauseam. Yes, shortly after taking the helm, he fired Penney’s entire executive team. Yes, he proposed and implemented massive store-level change without testing the waters first. Yes, he flip-flopped on pricing and positioning.
We know that none of it worked and was followed by staggering sales losses. We also know that in the process of failing on all fronts, Johnson’s lofty creative strategy for “JCP” also managed to alienate its existing customer base.
Still, iterations of the former Apple star’s missteps and Penney’s slump, fail to hone in on answering what really matters: what should be next for J.C. Penney? The focus needs to be on triage and customer attraction, customer retention and sales for the all-important fourth quarter. Here’s hoping that the return of former Penney CEO, Mike Ullman, to the chair coupled with this morning’s reported $850 million cash infusion will expedite the work that needs to get done in the second quarter to have a chance at success in the fourth.