Former JCPenney CEO: Should Have Stayed With My Plan Despite $6B Loss

Image courtesy of (Mark Clifton)

Former JCPenney CEO Ron “No Sales Here” Johnson may have cost the retailer $6 billion in sales during his tenure, but the executive believes his plan could have turned around the company, eventually. 

Speaking at a retail conference in Las Vegas, Johnson blamed his disastrous tenure on JCPenney’s corporate culture.

“When I got to Penney’s, I had no choice because I was told people wanted change, but the truth is nobody wanted change,” explained Johnson, according to Fortune. “The team there was very comfortable with their place in the market.”

Under Johnson, JCPenney nixed discounts and sales in favor of more high-end designer “boutiques.” The retailer’s sales fell from $17 billion annually to $11 billion, and the company fired more than 40,000 employees.

While Johnson admitted that he may have got the winds of change blowing a little too quickly after he took over in 2012, he maintained that in the long-term the strategy would have paid off.

“I still think if we had continued on, the company would have been a lot better than this painful u-turn where they’re trying to find growth from a new baseline,” Johnson said, likely referring to the company’s return to the appliance business after 30 years.

JCPenney’s new CEO Marvin Ellison has been working to turn around the company’s faltering sales since taking over in November 2015.

He quickly put into place a new strategy that focused on customer service, shorter shipping times, and a more robust online marketplace.

Fortune points out that some of Johnson’s strategies have carried through: the retailer has recently introduced a plus-size clothing boutique and expanded its Sephora beauty shops.

Ex-CEO Ron Johnson Says J.C. Penney Should Have Stuck With His Plan [Fortune]

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