J.C. Penney Co. Inc. promoted Jeffrey J. Allison, Steven Lawrence and Elizabeth H. Sweney to senior general merchandise managers.

This story first appeared in the December 10, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

They were general merchandise managers and all continue to hold the title of executive vice president.

Under the new structure, which was revealed late Wednesday, Sweney will lead shoes and women’s accessories in addition to women’s apparel. Allison will lead home, custom decorating and now fine jewelry. Lawrence will oversee children’s in addition to the men’s division. Penney’s said the changes take advantage of the depth of talent within the company, and position Penney’s to grow.

Officials could not be reached for comment on whether the promotions are related to succession planning or to help fill the void left by the departure of Ken Hicks, the former president and chief merchandising officer who left in June to become ceo of Foot Locker Inc. The company did say it has discontinued its search for a new president.

Myron E. “Mike” Ullman 3rd continues to lead all executive areas as chairman and chief executive officer. Penney’s presiding board director Thomas J. Engibous said, “We are fortunate to have the best chief executive in the retail industry in Mike Ullman, who is working extremely well with a team of high-quality and talented managers across all functions of the company. J.C. Penney is on the right path with bold goals and innovative strategies that bode well for a promising future. We look forward to seeing Mike and his team continue to execute on their goals in the years ahead.”

Ullman said, “J.C. Penney’s senior merchandising team is made up of highly skilled, seasoned executives with a clear understanding of what our customers want and how best to respond to that demand with merchandise that reflects exciting style and the combination of quality and affordable pricing that is our hallmark. It is enormously gratifying to see the progress they are making to ensure J.C. Penney’s long-term success. I am delighted to continue to lead this world-class team in the coming years.”

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