JCPenney Fires A Warning Shot At CEO Ron Johnson By Way Of A 96% Pay Cut

JCPenney CEO Ron Johnson is basically drowning in a sea of sliding sales numbers and sinking stock prices, but instead of tossing out a life preserver, the company has instead fired off a warning shot by way of a 96% pay cut in 2012. The clear message? Either sink yourself, or prove you can, in fact, turn the company around.

Johnson didn’t receive any bonuses or stock awards from JCPenney last year, and neither did his chief operating officer, reports the Wall Street Journal. His salary was $1.5 million with an additional $389,000 — not too shabby for us common folk, but this is in stark contrast to the previous year. In 2011 he got more than $50 million in stock awards to make up for the booty he left on the table at his previous job with Apple.

But it’s not that JCPenney is just being needlessly mean. In the last fiscal year, the chain’s sales fell by 25% and its stock dropped by half.

As such, Johnson has been under pressure to pick up those sales and but so far has responded to the pressure with such unsuccessful or “meh” tactics as taking away clearance sales (and then bringing them back) and trying to set up mini boutiques within stores to lure shoppers.

The company is also embroiled in a legal battle with Macy’s over the right to sell Martha Stewart branded designs and products in its stores, and has been forced to shelve that plan until an upcoming court date, further hurting its image and sales at the same time.

It’s a world of big money for the biggest names out there, but if no one is shopping at JCPenney, the company’s not going to reward the man responsible for bringing those customers in and turning the ship around. Sink or swim, indeed.

No Bonus for Penney CEO [Wall Street Journal]