J.C. Penney has made some executive changes to help turn around its troubled business.
Mike Robbins, executive vice president of private brands and supply chain, has been named executive vice president, chief stores and supply chain officer, effective Jan. 21. In his new customer-focused role, he will be responsible for all stores, supply chain and sourcing operations. He will continue to oversee product design and development until a new chief merchant has been identified. Tony Hurst was previously senior vice president, stores. He is leaving, effective Jan. 20, to pursue another opportunity.
In addition, Truett Horne, currently an associate principal at McKinsey & Co., will join J.C. Penney in the new post of chief transformation officer, reporting to Jill Soltau, chief executive officer. Horne will have primary responsibility for the development and implementation of the company’s strategic and transformational initiatives.
“These executive changes reflect the strength and depth of each leader’s responsibilities, and their enormous potential to drive change aligned with our customer’s needs and expectations,” said Soltau. “By appointing and recruiting the right leaders who have the expertise and fortitude to accelerate a turnaround strategy, our senior executive team will play an instrumental role in energizing teams, connecting with our customers and positioning J.C. Penney for profitable growth.”
The company also said it is seeking to fill several key senior management posts such as chief merchant, chief customer officer, senior vice president of planning and allocation, principal accounting officer, and chief financial officer. Andrew Drexler, senior vice president, chief accounting officer and controller, will leave the company effective March 31 to pursue another opportunity.
Last week, Penney’s reported that comparable store sales for the holiday season, defined by the nine-week period ending Jan. 5, 2019, declined 3.5 percent on a shifted basis reflecting 52 weeks in 2018 versus 53 weeks in 2017. On an unshifted basis, comparable sales decreased 5.4 percent.
While holiday proved to be a good sales season for most retailers, J.C. Penney’s own weak results underscore how urgent it is for Soltau, who became ceo last October, to set in motion new turnaround strategies.
As reported, the Dallas-based J.C. Penney said it will close more stores this year, including three this spring that have been designated so far, as part of an ongoing evaluation of its store portfolio occurring over the next few months. The retailer operates more than 860 stores and jcp.com.
In the third quarter of 2018, the company had a net loss of $151 million, compared to a net loss of $125 million in the 2017 quarter. The adjusted net loss was $164 million, compared to an adjusted net loss of $108 million in the year-ago quarter. Comparable sales declined 5.4 percent in the third quarter.