JCPenney’s New CEO Plans To Reuse His Home Depot Strategy

JCPenney hasn’t had a chief executive officer since chairman Myron Ullman sacked re-vamper Ron Johnson back in 2013. Last fall, they found a candidate who was up for the challenge: Marvin Ellison, who was in charge of Home Depot’s stores in the United States, and worked for Target before that. He reported to work as president and CEO-designee in November 2014, and takes over on August 1. This week, he spoke at an investment banking conference about his future plans for the company.

“I couldn’t find a greater upside opportunity where the financial downturn had been specifically driven by poor strategic decisions — not a disruptive competitor, not a change in the economic landscape,” Bloomberg News quotes from Ellison’s speech. (Warning: auto-play video) In other words: this was a rare opportunity to lead a retailer where the previous leadership had screwed things up, and not factors outside of the company’s control.

Ellison will use many of the same strategies that he did at Home Depot in the last two years, where he was in charge of a great turnaround. He will focus on making the experience of shopping at JCPenney a lot better for consumers, which includes:

  • Shorter shipping times
  • More employees helping customers
  • More robust online sales

He wants to improve the interconnectedness of store inventories and the website, but at the same time make fewer corporate demands on managers so they can spend less time on paperwork, and more on their local employees and on customers.

One idea that wasn’t Ellison’s: reviving print catalogs, since customers like to use them to shop online.

J.C. Penney’s Next CEO Lays Out How Struggling Chain Can Thrive [Bloomberg] (Warning: auto-play video)