By  on June 2, 2008

DALLAS — John Irvin, president of J.C. Penney Direct's catalogue and $1.5 billion Internet business, is retiring effective today.

Irvin, who also is an executive vice president at J.C. Penney Co. Inc., said his responsibilities will be divided among several senior executives as the Plano, Tex.-based chain integrates and realigns the management of its stores and Direct divisions.

Mike Boylson, executive vice president and chief marketing officer at Penney's, will take over the marketing and operations functions for J.C. Penney Direct.

"The company is well positioned to move ahead without me, though I have agreed to continue to be available to Penney's if they need me for advice or consultation," Irvin said in an interview Friday.

Irvin joined Penney's seven years ago after serving as chief executive officer of the Chicago-based Spiegel catalogue. He has spent 38 years in the retail and wholesale fashion industries, including executive management positions at the former Federated Department Stores Inc., Mervyns and Sears, Roebuck & Co., where he began his career in 1970 in the executive training program. He also was president of the Dallas Market Center.

"When I was recruited to join Penney's in 2001 by [former ceo] Allen Questrom, my plans were only to work here two or three years," Irvin said. "But I have enjoyed it so much that I just kept extending my plans."

Myron E. "Mike" Ullman 3rd, chairman and ceo of Penney's, said at the annual shareholders meeting last month that is considered the hub of the retailer's three-channel strategy that includes stores, Internet and catalogue.

"We use as an information resource for customers and associates, and as a way to get instant and invaluable feedback from shoppers through product reviews or blogs," Irvin said, adding that, which generated volume of $22 million in 2001, is the fastest growing division at Penney's.

Home furnishings and women's and junior fashions continue to be among the strongest categories online, he said.

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