J.C. Penney, filling a role critical to its turnaround efforts, named Victor Ejarque Lopez senior vice president and general merchandise manager for women’s apparel.
Ejarque Lopez will report to Michelle Wlazlo, executive vice president and chief merchandising officer, when he joins Penney’s on June 10. He will be responsible for overseeing and developing all of the retailer’s women’s apparel merchandising strategies and programs. He succeeds Jodie Johnson, who left the company.
Ejarque Lopez has 25 years of experience in merchandising, product, supply chain and operations and was formerly with Guess Inc. as vice president and general merchandise manager of global operations, overseeing the company’s merchandising, buying, planning, allocation, supply chain and logistics. Penney’s said he worked globally “to significantly reduce choice counts, implement markdown efficiencies, improve store replenishment, and meaningfully reduce sourcing production time.”
In the past few years, Penney’s has been trying to improve its apparel business, largely by shifting from being overly traditional and career-oriented to offering more casual, contemporary and active styles.
In addition, under the leadership of Jill Soltau, Penney’s chief executive officer since last October, the store has been reducing its hard goods offerings, including exiting major appliance and in-store furniture categories, to put greater emphasis on soft goods. Women’s apparel represents roughly a quarter of Penney’s $13 billion in annual revenues.
“Enhancing our apparel areas will continue to be a key focus. It’s critical to our success moving forward,” Soltau recently said.
Soltau also said Penney’s is “taking a diligent approach to our home assortment” and that removing appliances enables the company to refine the soft home assortment.
Since joining Penney’s, Soltau has overhauled almost the entire top management. She is searching for a head of e-commerce.
Over the last few months, aside from Wlazlo, Soltau named five other executive vice presidents: Shawn Gensch, chief customer officer; Bill Wafford, chief financial officer; Brynn Evanson, chief human resources officer; Therace Risch, chief information and digital officer, and Mike Robbins, chief stores and supply chain officer.
In addition, Laurene Gandolfo was named senior vice president of home product design and development, and Truett Horne was appointed senior vice president and chief transformation officer. Several other svp’s were also named.
Wlazlo said Ejarque Lopez’s appointment “fills a vital component of our merchandising leadership team, and we are eager to leverage his broad expertise in women’s apparel as we curate and develop sought-after brands and assortments to make J.C. Penney a preferred shopping destination for our customers.”
Prior to Guess, Ejarque Lopez was vice president and gmm of women’s apparel and accessories for Kmart, part of Sears Holdings. Penney’s said that at Kmart, Ejarque Lopez managed a portfolio of 10 brands, “improved gross margin significantly and increased speed to market while defining the product and merchandising strategy.”
Earlier, Ejarque Lopez spent 13 years with Stradivarius, the international women’s and men’s specialty chain owned by Inditex in Spain, which also owns Zara. At Stradivarius, he held different jobs including heading up buying, allocation and sourcing.