By  on June 25, 2009

In a surprising move, Ken C. Hicks has resigned as president and chief merchandising officer of J.C. Penney Co. Inc. to become president and chief executive officer of Foot Locker Inc., succeeding Matthew Serra.

Hicks has been a key figure in the reinvention of J.C. Penney and advancing the chain’s huge private label business. His decision to leave Penney’s is a blow to the business. Hicks was a strong candidate to succeed chairman and ceo Myron “Mike” Ullman and his departure leaves Penney’s with the difficult task of finding a replacement, considering the lack of talent in the industry. It also comes at a time when the business is struggling, along with most of retailing.

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