Ron Johnson is gone. The now ex-CEO of JCPenney and former Apple executive was fired today, to be replaced by former CEO Myron “Mike” Ullman, according to a JCPenney press release and sources quoted by CNBC. Shares were up almost 6% on the news in after hours trading.
Johnson has been slammed in the media and the market as his controversial no-discounting strategy decimated sales at JCP and brought same-store traffic down by nearly one- third.
Former CEO Allen Questorm toured the new prototype store in Dallas Friday and said that, while he liked the store-in-store concept Johnson developed, he felt the discounting strategy should’ve been tested. When asked if he’d rejoin the company board, he said no.
The final straw for Johnson came over the weekend when William Ackman, Johnson’s biggest supporter and JCPenney’s largest shareholder, issued stark and public criticism of Johnson’s failings. In a Reuters conference in Boston, Ackman said that Johnson had made “big mistakes,” and that he deserved the criticism he was receiving.
Penney’s lost $552 million in 2012 but Johnson rebutted the critics and seemed poised to hold on to the bitter end. That end has now come, as his supporters have abandoned him. In his role at Apple, Johnson tested the frontier of retail and reinvented the concept of the store. His attempt to port that skill to JCP was a failure, and it’s up to Mike Ullman to salvage what he can from the ashes.