J.C. Penney Co. Inc. has named Jeffrey Davis executive vice president and chief financial officer, succeeding Andrew Drexler, who was interim cfo during the search process. Drexler was filling in for Edward Record, who officially left the company July 11.

Davis will report to Marvin R. Ellison, chairman and chief executive officer of J.C. Penney.

“He brings decades of finance, treasury and strategy experience from a host of leading companies and will make an outstanding addition to our team,” Ellison said. He added that Davis will be a “tremendous asset to J.C.Penney as we continue to differentiate our business in a competitive retail climate and further strengthen our balance sheet moving forward.”

Davis will be responsible for all financial operations including the finance teams at J.C. Penney’s home office in Plano, Tex., and the shared services center in Salt Lake City, Utah. His primary objectives will include furthering efforts to identify earnings growth opportunities, optimize pricing, exercise SG&A discipline, manage inventory levels and deleverage debt, the company said in its statement Monday.

Besides J.C. Penney’s, in the past three months, cfo’s have come or gone at several other retail companies, including Neiman Marcus Group, Nordstrom Inc., Kohl’s Corp., Hudson’s Bay Co., Kirkland’s Inc. and Christopher & Banks, setting an unusual trend industry experts believe could be attributed in several cases to angst in the industry and new and weightier responsibilities attached to the job. In one or two cases, it was just a matter of retirement.

Davis most recently served as cfo at Darden Restaurants, overseeing finance and accounting, corporate reporting, tax, internal audit, treasury and investor relations. He also maintained oversight of Darden’s real estate acquisitions and restaurant development.

Earlier, Davis was executive vice president and cfo for Wal-Mart U.S. stores. Upon joining Wal-Mart in 2006, he served as vice president of finance for its U.S. specialty division before assuming positions of increasing responsibility, including senior vice president of finance and strategy, followed by senior vice president and treasurer. Before Wal-Mart, Davis held finance-related positions with Lakeland Tours, McKesson Corp. and The Hillman Co.

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