The Breakdown | Explaining Southern California's economy
Business & Economy

JC Penney CEO Ron Johnson steps down

Merchandise on display at JC Penney in Culver City.
Merchandise on display at JC Penney in Culver City.
Anibal Ortiz / KPCC

JC Penney said Monday that CEO Ron Johnson is no longer with the company.

Johnson had led efforts to end the retailer’s heavily discounted sales and most of its coupons, replacing them with everyday low prices. The strategy has yet to pay off and the retailer’s revenues have been in steep decline.

JC Penney said Johnson has been replaced with his predecessor Myron E. Ullman, III, who was CEO of the company for seven years until November 2011.

“While JC Penney has faced a difficult period, its legacy as a leader in American retailing is an asset that can be built upon and leveraged,” Ullman said in a statement.

Ullman said he will reach out to customers, employees, vendors and investors “to understand their needs, views and insights.”

“With that knowledge, I will work with the leadership team and the board to develop and clearly articulate a game plan to establish a foundation for future success,” he said.

Ullman is re-entering the company at a time when the retailer is struggling to increase sales. In its fourth quarter, sales declined 28 percent to $163 million. The Plano, Texas-based company had a fourth quarter net loss of $552 million.

JC Penney has 1,100 stores around the country, about 30 in California. 

Last year, Britt Beemer, CEO of Charleston, S.C.-based America's Research Group, told KPCC he was skeptical of JC Penney's strategy.

“It reminds me of a gentleman that wants to drive a pickup truck over a cliff," Beemer said. "You know, driving over a cliff might be fun, but you ultimately crash and die and that’s exactly what they’re doing to that company. They’re destroying Penney’s with every week without a promotion.”

Johnson served as JC Penney's CEO for about 16 months. He was previously senior vice president of retail at Apple.

The company’s stock price closed Monday at $15.87, up 42 cents