James Starke

The changes are continuing at J.C. Penney.

James Starke, the company’s longtime head of men’s wear, has exited the retailer and has been replaced by Jeff Useforge.

Useforge, whose title is senior vice president and general merchandise manager of men’s and children’s, will oversee the company’s private and national brands. He was formerly vice president and divisional merchandise manager of men’s, big and tall, activewear and team apparel for Penney’s. Before that, he was a senior buyer of big and tall and The Foundry, a big and tall concept that it had once hoped to roll out as a chain.

Useforge has more than 30 years of retail experience and began his career with Mercantile Department Stores. He also spent five years with Saks Inc. in the Proffitt’s and McRae’s division, where he was gmm of men’s and children’s. He has also worked for Bon-Ton and Kohl’s.

Starke had spent 13 years at Penney’s, mainly in the men’s department. His most recent role was senior vice president and senior gmm of men’s, children’s, jewelry and home, according to his LinkedIn profile. He joined Penney’s in 2005 after spending eight years at Foley’s in Houston, also primarily in the men’s area.

He could not be reached for comment on his future plans.

J.C. Penney has been undergoing a dramatic overhaul under new chief executive officer Jill Soltau, who joined the retailer in October.

In February, Michelle Wlazlo, a former Target executive, joined Penney’s as executive vice president and chief merchant, reporting to Soltau.

Soltau has made several other key hires in the past few months including a new chief financial officer, and a chief transformation officer and a new head of the home division.

The Plano, Tex.-based retailer, which has historically had a strong men’s and young men’s business, has been struggling of late. In 2018, Penney’s net loss was $255 million, or 81 cents per share, compared to a net loss of $118 million, or 38 cents, in 2017. Total sales for 2018 were $11.67 billion versus $12.55 billion in 2017. Comparable sales decreased 3.1 percent.

Soltau, who succeeded Marvin Ellison at the helm of the retailer, pocketed a compensation package of $16.7 million last year, which included $10 million in stock awards, a $6 million bonus and a salary of $413,636.

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