Newly hired Ron Johnson, recently of Apple, has taken the reins as new CEO at 99 year old retailer J.C. Penney. It was called Golden Rule Store prior to 1913 having been founded in 1902 by James Cash Penney (I guess his parents had a sense of humor). Mr. Johnson was the brainchild behind Apple Stores and Genius Bars and has taken on a fairly monumental challenge to refurbish a true American institutional brand. Prior to his stint at Apple Mr. Johnson was with Target so he has retail big box experience. An article in Daily Finance offers a good background http://aol.it/ifrUoG.
Mr. Johnson unveiled Penney’s new strategy and logo this week (a square signifying a square deal). One of his first moves is to eliminate the seemingly unending promotions and sales. In fact J.C. Penney had 590 such promotions and sales in 2011. He also will be streamlining pricing to be more consistent, around 40 percent off previous prices, all the time. And as reported in Macnn.com – http://bit.ly/A5gC3X when sales happen, they will be month-long events, and the company will strive to offer “great prices” on items every day. It will also price items in whole numbers, meaning a $20 price instead of $19.99.
I have written (unflatteringly) recently about the trials and tribulations at Sears http://wp.me/pJX7l-y6 and while I’ve not set foot in a J.C. Penney store (at least not that I can recall which says something in and of itself) in a year or so, I feel Mr. Johnson has got the right stuff and is saying and doing the right things to refurbish the J.C. Penney brand.
Having a brand stand for something and have that position understood by consumers is the challenge that Mr. Johnson is taking head on. I like that. He’s also avowed to invest $80 million a month in advertising and promotion. I like that too!
What’s your take on J.C. Penney? Is it a tired brand beyond repair?